Meena to speak at Fall Forum

Policy makers and the private sector are coming together to bolster economic development through the new Madison County Business League.

“We want the public and private sectors working together so Madison County won’t have any lost opportunities,” executive director Jan Collins said. “The league provides stakeholders in the private sector with opportunities for economic development, and it offers public officials the opportunity to hear what business people in communities are saying.”

In operation since June, the league has about 40 members so far with an average of 10 businesses joining a month. Tonight is its inaugural event, a fall forum reception at the Jackson Yacht club with guest speaker Hu Meena, president of Cellular South, and the recognition of the charter members.

The league was created by a Board of Supervisors’ resolution to be in partnership with the Madison County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA) to bring government officials and private businesses together to encourage planning for the county’s growth and development. The mayors of Canton, Flora, a Madison and Ridgeland, the president of the Board of Supervisors and the members of MCEDA are all members of the league’s board of directors.

The Business League meets a need for MCEDA, executive director Tim Coursey said. “We have to have stakeholders. It’s critical to our mission,” he said. “Its sole purpose is to support our economic development efforts in the county.

By having local elected officials on its board, the Business League ensures that there is an open forum for discussion for business owners with mayors and supervisors, Collins said. That idea is reflected in the league’s credo of “one vision, one voice,” she said.

“People want to know what’s going on with economic development in the county. Business leaders with investments in the county want to know how development will impact their companies,” Collins said.

The Business League is not a chamber of commerce nor in competition with existing chambers, Collins said. “While we do provide networking like chambers, but the league is more of a way to support economic development in the county.”

The Business League so far has helped the city of Madison with an interest survey that helped convince Tulance Univeristy to open a branch next summer and has supported the Madison County school bond issue.

The league is open to businesses of all sizes throughout Madison County, Collins said. “We already have a diverse group representing a variety of businesses in the county.

“Members get a sense of participation in planning the development of the county for future growth. Proper planning is needed to ensure that we maintain our quality of life for facilities,” she said.

By Lucy Webber – Madison County Herald

Appeared in print September 17, 2009