Business Development: What is Jackson’s Future?
By: Megan Seals, Communications Coordinator, Jackson Chamber on Jan 29, 2013
When the Jackson Chamber held its B for Business event on Thursday, January 11, the talk was all about Jackson. Community leaders Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris, City of Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist and chamber President/CEO Kyle Spurgeon were the featured speakers as they discussed “Business Development; Where are we now and where are we heading?”
Mayor Harris opened up the B for Business event by addressing Madison County’s budget.
“Our County budget for this year totals $179 million, with the school budget being $122 million and the general fund budget at $57 million,” Harris said. “Our per student expenditure is $9,726, which ranks 6th out of the 95 County systems and 18th out of 137 state systems.”
Along with the budget, Harris also addressed the latest unemployment figures.
“Our unemployment rate for January 2012 stood at 9 percent,” he said. “Since then, our rate has bounced around, up and down, and hit 9 percent again in June 2012. But the latest figures we have are for November 2012, where our rate dropped by 7.2 percent. The last time we were at this level was in November 2008. With this rate, it looks like our job market has more stability.”
For Harris, he believes the future for Jackson/Madison County looks bright.
“Our unemployment rate seems to be heading in the right direction, the sales tax base seems to have mostly rebounded, some of our industries have announced expansions and adding jobs, small businesses seem to have found a firmer footing, building permits have picked up and we have new developments going on in Downtown Jackson, The Columns and Pringles Park,” Harris said. “So I believe our community is positioned to have a good year.”
Mayor Gist addressed that Downtown Jackson is one of the top priorities for the new year.
“A town is judged by its downtown area,” Gist said. “Our downtown is going to change and it is already changing, but we need help to grow the city. We are adding upscale apartments and retail Downtown, and it is going to be an amazing thing to see.”
Gist emphasized that Jacksonians can help the city grow by stepping up and becoming cheerleaders for Jackson.
“By virtue of my position, I am the head cheerleader for this city,” Gist said. “But I need some help on my cheerleading squad. I need you all to help grow this city and make it better.”
Gist encouraged attendees to use any social media as their cheerleading platform.
“As you go on Facebook or any other social media, say something good about your city,” Gist said. “If you happen to venture out and get a good video of Jackson, put it on YouTube.”
According to the chamber President/CEO Kyle Spurgeon, the Jackson Chamber and other economic development officials will continue to work together with the surrounding counties, cities and businesses.
“We are just as happy for Trenton (landing) MacLean Power Systems as if they were in Jackson,” Spurgeon said. “I know it might be hard to believe that a chamber guy would say that, but we kept those jobs in this region. So you will continue to see us spending our time working with our surrounding communities to help them grow. We have a chamber that is very well funded and a large staff, so we have the capabilities to help our neighbors.”
As for the city and county, they vowed to attendees that they will work together to help Jackson/Madison County thrive.
“I know that Mayor Gist and I will do everything in our power to see that your local government is your partner, not your enemy,” Harris said.