OXFORD – Business and industrial growth is booming across the Mid-South. At the forefront of that trend in Mississippi is the city of Oxford, county seat of Lafayette County, located in the center of the northern one-fifth of the state. The community offers advantages unmatched and for various reasons.
For families, Oxford provides one of the best school systems in the state; venues for cultural involvement and participation; religious worship including Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Buddhist faiths (in near by Batesville); retail shopping; and all types of recreational opportunities.
Oxford also has numerous cultural offerings that include various music genres, theater and stage performances, and even a state-wide radio program – Thacker Mountain Radio – which is broadcast live each week from Off Square Books. William Faulkner’s home, Rowan Oak, continues to be a must-see attraction for literary devotees along with the Faulkner family home –Memory House – which attracts tourists from all over the country.
The city also has a wide variety of retail stores including major chain-stores as well as independents, restaurants and night-life offerings, all of which provide ample parking. Most are conveniently within walking distance of Oxford’s historic town square. Nelson’s, on the square, is the oldest department store in the South. But there also are attractive boutiques, cafes and shops which are worth exploring. Additionally, major shopping centers east of town are conveniently reached by the network of highways that serve Oxford.
The city’s population has a median household income of $227,400 compared to an average of $105,700 statewide. Housing costs in Oxford average $211,500, while the state average is $123,200. And with growth throughout Lafayette County, there are homes available for every budget.
For businesses already established in the area, or for those looking for a place to locate, relocate or expand, Oxford provides a portfolio of reasons to select the city as their first choice. Location for most companies is paramount, not only for their facility but also for their employees. Oxford offers various opportunities to meet the needs of families.
The city is touted as the “Cultural Mecca of the South,” a slogan fitting for several reasons. Wayne Andrews, executive director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, manages a variety of seminars and programs designed to marry artisans’ talents with the technical side of business needs. The goal is growth within industry, utilizing talented artists, through networking and building future customers for them and the business community. It’s a successful approach to the combining of art and business to the advantage of both.
Along with Andrews’ efforts, Jon Maynard – executive director of the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation – has been actively involved in coordinating and facilitating business and community relationships since 2012. Maynard saw the light, so to speak, and began to address the need to “reverse-pull” his efforts and to focus on reaching out from Oxford as a hub to businesses and industry leaders to “get involved with problem solving over the long range and not just the immediate, so that results happen and efforts expand towards a more productive future,” he said.
“I realized the need to address both Oxford’s involvement and the state’s involvement in nutrition for our people,” he said “There are small-scale farm operations throughout Mississippi that need to know how to network with distributors in order to get their crops to a larger market than just their local communities. We, the Oxford chamber along with our Economic Development Foundation, can with guidance and teaching help our entire state to first feed our own citizens, then also feed others in markets across the country. Our entire state can become the ‘bread basket’ – to use a well-worn term – of the entire U.S.
“We have some of the richest land on the continent, the Mississippi River Delta, with more than enough acreage to grow food crops that can feed hungry and needy people from coast to coast. And our efforts at and through (the Oxford) chamber, coupled with those of men like Allen Kurr, who is vice president of the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation, in partnership with companies in Mississippi and even outside our state, can develop us into the center-piece of a solution that will affect millions of people in the decades ahead.”
Maynard’s and Kurr’s vision is but one aspect of the total picture. Oxford is growing, and these two leaders along with others of similar mind in both the city and Lafayette County, are working to set a course that will assure a productive and viable future for Oxford, Lafayette county and the state. And business and industry is responding with regular inquiries asking what Oxford has to offer.
Population continues to grow and Oxford is rated as the 8th “Best Place to Live” in Mississippi. Due to that growth, in 2017 only 39 of the 82 counties in the state had population growth from the previous year. Lafayette county was ranked No. 4 on that list showing total growth. Most counties lost population so that, if a business owner, or a start-up was looking to grow his or her company in Mississippi, they had to consider a community that was growing. Continued increase is a hallmark of Lafayette County and Oxford, a trend that has not lessened.
For businesses that do relocate to Mississippi, Oxford’s Lafayette County Max D. Hipp Industrial Park offers 200 available acres within its total 450 acres that are ready for occupancy. The property is serviced by all utilities and presently accomodates eight companies, all with access to major highways, river, rail, and air transportation close by.
Oxford is also home to the University of Mississippi (aka Ole Miss), one of the finest schools of higher education in the nation, and also to some very famous people including William Faulkner, John Grisham, Curtis Wilkie, Naomi Sims, Eli and Archie Manning, among others. And the community is blessed with a labor force of some 26,600 people. The largest segment of workers being in government, 8,300, with manufacturing accounting for 1,900+ with manufacturing and retail trade combined accounting for 17 percent of the total labor force.
Statistics on every measurable chart show a vibrant city that has continually grown since the 1980s, with potential for incredible business and private-sector growth, spearheaded by the efforts being made by community leaders whose vision is for an Oxford that will be a leader on the national stage for both industry, commerce, businesses with company-fueled solutions to problems that affect people now and will continue to do so well into the 21st century.
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