- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

HERNANDO, Miss. (AP) - DeSoto County will ask the Legislature to approve a bill to let the board of supervisors get money or “in-kind” services to a local economic development agency.

The Commercial Appeal reports (http://bit.ly/1iZyCKs ) supervisors took action Monday after being told that two industrial prospects were looking at the county. The prospects were not identified.

Supervisors gave authority to the DeSoto Economic Development Council to negotiate with prospects, “package” deals on “certificated” sites and bring them to the board for action.

While the county would not have control of appointees to the council, the supervisors would decide whether to provide funding for infrastructure, site reviews and other needs.


Board attorney Tony Nowak said the local and private bill would “authorize the county to give funds directly to the council for projects, but doesn’t authorize the council to expend funds.”

“The western part of DeSoto County has been identified by the Mississippi Development Authority as one of the chief opportunity areas of the state,” said Supervisor Bill Russell of Walls. “We have roads, rails, the Mississippi River, electric power, sewer, gas, workforce access. We have everything - except a certification process, which this will help accomplish. And if a site isn’t certificated when a prospect shows up, they won’t wait - they’ll just go somewhere else.”

Certification, said Russell, tells a prospect that a site “is shovel-ready. It means it’s been checked out on pre-construction issues; no one wants to spend millions developing a site and only then find out it’s on an Indian burial ground.”

Russell’s motion included a $25 million cap in the proposed bill on what the county can spend to draw prospects through the end of 2015.

Russell said he’d like to see more manufacturing: “We’re proud of the industries on each side of the county, but manufacturing would mean a lot for stability.”

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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com