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New Delta industry not what it is purported

March 11th, 2010

I hate to be the fly in the punch bowl here, but the continued talk about new industry in the Delta changing the way of life there is truly nauseating.
As a Delta native, I continue to be amazed at how folks like to associate with the Delta in order to makes themselves seem like they are helping a third world country.
Don’t get me wrong, the fact that a German company broke ground on a $300-million pipe manufacturing plant last week in Tunica County is a great opportunity for jobs in the area.
But what area?
The Mississippi Delta comprises many counties from the Tennessee line all the way down to northern Warren County near Vicksburg. It runs from the Mississippi River to near Grenada and Batesville in the East.
And, yes, Tunica County is part of the mix.
But where the plant will be located in Northeast Tunica County, the vast majority of the up-to-500 jobs will likely go to  a ever growing DeSoto County population.
And no one is thumbing their nose at jobs for those folks in Desoto County.
However, it’s disingenuous, at best, for Gov. Haley Barbour and the powers that be in Tunica County to proclaim this, and many other projects to be giant victories for the most downtrodden region in the United States.
It was not so long ago when a new manufacturing plant launched in the City of Batesville.
Parts of Panola County are in the Delta, true enough. But when the effort was announced, it was put forth in a manner that made it sound like Deltans were going to get the lions share of the jobs.
In that instance, like the plant in Tunica County, most of the new jobs for the Batesville plant will go to those 20 miles east in Oxford rather than 20 miles west in Marks.
Again, good for those that are getting the jobs. We are in an economy where everyone who can get a job deserves it.
My concern is that we are telling the rest of the state a little white lie when new industry opens in fringe Delta counties.
Because what happens is the next time someone from Meridian hears about the plight of the Delta, they will think, “Well, they just had two companies with 1,000 jobs open. They can’t be too bad off.”
The fact is the new plant in Tunica County will have only a  mild effect on the Delta’s jobless population. That shouldn’t be overlooked.

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