Choctaw to join Webster, Montgomery in regional partnership

By Staff and Press Reports

Choctaw County may soon be joining forces with Webster and Montgomery Counties by establishing a regional economic development partnership.

“Stone-Adams Financial Partners, a business development and consulting firm, is pleased to announce that efforts to coordinate a Regional Economic Partnership for three counties in North-central Mississippi are underway. At the most recent meetings of their respective Boards of Supervisors, Montgomery, Webster and Choctaw Counties all voted to join as the “Regional Economic Partnership of Mississippi” to consolidate Economic Development activities and resources in that part of the state. Among the counties, the partnership is being referred to as “REPMS,” stated a press release from Stone Adams Financial.

The Choctaw County Board of Supervisors discussed and later approved a 90 day professional services agreement with Stone Adams Financial to lead the development of the regional economic partnership. The board discussed the agreement in their September 28 board meeting but tabled it until their October 1 meeting. In the October 1 meeting, the board approved the agreement in a 4-1 vote with District 5 Supervisor Eric Chambers voting against the agreement.

Webster and Montgomery Counties approved the professional service agreement on September 28.

The press release from Stone Adams states, “The current scope of work through a professional services agreement puts Stone-Adams in the lead for Economic Development in all three counties for several months as REPMS finalizes administrative and corporate responsibilities, and as the participating counties appoint REPMS board members. REPMS will take existing development plans and projects and combine resources and efforts to bring them online, as well as to structure more robust and long-term, sustainable Economic Development plans for the region.”

The Choctaw County Economic Development Foundation supports the regional partnership. Ron Bennett, CCEDF board president, said in the supervisors’ October 1 meeting, “We are committed. Our board is fully behind it.”

The CCEDF will pay the professional services agreement fees and fees to join the partnership once it is established.

Developing the regional economic development partnership will benefit all three counties.

“This is about creating jobs that are accessible to the available workforces in our counties,” said Ron Wood, Supervisor, Montgomery County in the Stone Adams press release. “When so many people commute across county and development district lines, it only makes sense to bring those counties and districts together to create opportunities that benefit the greatest number of people.”

“The reality is that we need jobs, and this is an effort to develop prospects for our workforce,” said Pat Cummings, President, Webster County Board of Supervisors in the press release. “People in Webster County drive to work in Montgomery County; people in Montgomery County drive to the mines in Choctaw County; this kind of a partnership is just a natural fit for us as we continue to bring industry and development to this region of Mississippi.”

“As we continue to work with local governments and businesses to find creative ways to bring industry to Mississippi, and to find beneficial ways to finance those projects, the creation of this partnership equips these Mississippi counties with an additional measure of ability to effectively multi-task at all levels of Economic Development,” said Nick Walters, Stone-Adams’ founder. “While the regional partnership comes fully online, Stone-Adams will assist the partnership by handling the day-to-day Economic Development activities for all three counties. Regional efforts are a priority among many locales, and have been mentioned in several recent publications – they are truly paving the way for effective and streamlined development activities in our state.”

“We know, as the group focused on Economic Development for Choctaw County, that having our supervisors and other county leaders involved with us is critical for success,” said Ron Bennett, President, Choctaw County Economic Development District, in the press release.

“We appreciate them taking this leadership role seriously and for having the vision going forward to pull this together for everyone’s benefit.”

Walters previously worked for the CCEDF as executive director for two years leading all of Choctaw County’s economic development efforts. Before working as the foundation executive director, the Choctaw County Board of Supervisors hired Walters as a consultant to work on various projects including the Lake Project and the Choctaw County Medical Center.

In addition to the joint efforts of the counties, REPMS will also be partnering with the Mississippi State University College of Business, to leverage existing programs and resources. “Mississippi State University is pleased to partner with Stone-Adams and to do anything we can to assist in the Economic Development of these counties,” says Jeffrey Rupp, Outreach Director for the College of Business in the press release. “Rural counties often times have trouble competing for economic development projects, yet have unique things to offer in terms of quality of life and a solid work ethic. Helping these counties and communities succeed is in keeping with President Keenum’s commitment to the service mission of Mississippi State University.”

“We are pleased that all three Counties, along with the MSU College of Business, have confidence in our firm to bring all these plans and long-term projects together,” said Walters. “This is a very good opportunity for Mississippi to show how collaboration and cooperation can provide a model for sustainable economic development.”

The press release added, “Stone-Adams Financial Partners is dedicated to aiding ambitious enterprises with knowledge and expertise required for success. Through its affiliate companies, Stone-Adams aids in accelerated growth of ideas and motivation. Through its network of financial resources, government contacts, and enterprise consulting, Stone-Adams possesses networking ability to help any company reach the next level in growth and profitability. For more information, visit www.stoneadams.us.