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Grenada Project' Targets Economic Development Needs
By Brittany Huggins
Staff Writer

(February 2009) A plan has been put into place to improve Grenada’s economic development, according Deborah Bailey, Economic Development District consultant.

The “Grenada Project,” which was introduced to city/county officials and industry stakeholders during Friday’s meeting at the Holmes Community College Grenada Center, will help move Grenada forward, according to Bailey.

Bailey said the consulting firm Chabin Concepts, Inc. was engaged by the EDD several months ago to help develop and implement a strategic plan for moving Grenada County’s economic development forward in a focused, effective way.  
    “Their engagement, which they have titled ‘Organize to Compete,’  includes helping us build a marketing strategy and plan that is based on a thorough assessment of our assets and our liabilities,” Bailey said.
    “This assessment, initially presented during Friday’s meeting, will be used to develop Grenada’s business case. Once that is developed, they will work with us to identify target industries to focus on, and to develop a ‘tool kit’ for improving our effectiveness in attracting businesses and industries to Grenada. This will include an expanded Web presence and various other business development tools,” she said.

The first phase of the project, according to Bailey, involved collecting information from the community.

“They prepared a survey, based on the American Council on Competitiveness model, that was sent to about 65 business and political leaders in the county. There was nearly a 100 percent response rate, the highest they have ever achieved,” Bailey said.

The second phase of the project consisted of pairing with Austin Consulting, a premier site selection consulting firm, according to Bailey.

The two firms put the EDD through two mock site selection processes, and provided feedback on how Grenada compared to other communities during the meeting, she said.

“While there are a number of areas that need improvement, such as the appearance of downtown and the high school dropout rate, we are excited to have the information and to see that there is much we can do to help ourselves,” Bailey said.

Areas that impressed Don Schjeldahl and Jonathan Gemmen from Austin Company, according to Bailey, were the I-55 industrial park and the two smaller industrial parks.

According to Coley Bailey, EDD chairman, Grenada must focus on aspects that can be controlled in order to improve economic development.

“We cannot control the economy nor the immediate outlook for jobs, but we can do a lot to prepare Grenada better to compete in the world economy for the jobs that are available, and to build on the strong relationships we have with industries already here.     We have many assets, and our challenge is to manage and market them well,” said Coley Bailey.

“On behalf of the EDD Board, I want to thank everyone who attended the meeting. I particularly want to thank Phillip Heard and the Chamber of Commerce for all of the extra hard work Phillip put in to the site visits. We look forward to progressing on the development and implementation of the marketing plan, and to sharing it with the community,” he said.

According to Coley Bailey, the first meeting served as a rallying cry for all those in Grenada who want to see its prosperity grow.

“The EDD plans to work hard on building bridges throughout the community, and hope everyone will join in our efforts,” he said.

Suggestions and comments can be sent to the members of the EDD at Comments@GrenadaEDD.org.

EDD board members are Coley Bailey, chairman; Wayne Smith, Frank Bradford, Keith Mitchell, Ida Givens, Tommy Jones, and Lee Murphy. Jay Gore serves as counsel.

The story was originally printed in the Grenada Star and was reprinted with permission.
 
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