In a competitive race to attract investment, thousands of cities and towns across the 50 states have formulated a variety of winning strategies, all of them highlighting their unique selling points and promoting a multitude of incentives. But, from Mississippi, there is a success story, one made into a case study frequently cited by experts in the United States.
Tupelo in Mississippi has played the long game with regards to its growth plan, thanks to the consistent vision, steadfast commitment and quick action of the city’s primary economic development agency, the 75-year-old Community Development Foundation.
“The Council of Governments is partly unique because we have eight municipalities and one county involved in a month-to-month meeting wherein they can raise all issues that they may face. That’s what makes our area unique. There is a group approach to solving problems that affect the bigger community,” explained Tupelo/Lee County Community Development Foundation President and CEO David Rumbarger.
Among the city’s most recent achievements was the opening of the North Lee Industrial Park, located just 20 minutes from downtown Tupelo, Tupelo Regional Airport, and Toyota subsidiary Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi Inc., in neighboring Guntown.
“We have invested in six available buildings with 50,000 to 100,000 square feet of space. Companies can come in and, within three to six months, be up and running with a workforce and a facility ready to produce goods for the marketplace. We try to shrink the time frame between decision and production, so that they can make money as soon as possible,” Rumbarger said.
“We’ve worked with the Japanese Consulate and with JETRO (the Japan External Trade Organization) to make sure that we are aligned with priorities of Japanese companies. As Japanese companies look at the area, we line up our resources to meet their needs and introduce them to the right partners so they can fulfill their plans,” he added.