City Council gets an update on economic development activity

The Picayune City Council received an update on economic development activities during Tuesday’s meeting that was held with social distancing guidelines in place.

Pearl River County’s Director of Economic Development Blaine LaFontaine told the council members that in spite of the tough times as a result of COVID-19, he was encouraged with the progress made during the past few months, noting work that has been done with the local school districts and Pearl River Community College in regards to workforce development and related programs while the institutions await word on what funding cuts may be incurred by each of them.



LaFontaine (pictured standing) stated that the Crosby Arboretum is a great asset and is nationally recognized. He pointed out that there very much potential with the Arboretum and Mississippi State has a $16 million master plan that has been vetted for the facilty with the federal delegation.


LaFontaine said that he has worked closely with the Chamber of Commerce’s in Picayune and Poplarville. He said that together, they have brought back the Leadership Pearl River County program which will be open for 15 participants with applications being accepted until July 3rd. The program will begin in August and run through January, 2021.

LaFontaine said his office is working with three potential prospects for the Bell Avon property in Picayune. He said that while COVID 19 slowed things down and in some cases may have change companies perspectives on what was next for their business, he will continue to work to market these assets. LaFontaine said the prospects are still in the mix.

LaFontaine said Stennis Space Center is, and will always be, a key partner for Pearl River County and Picayune. He believes there are opportunities there that will require planning, both state and federal investment, as well as working closely with Pearl River Community College.


“The more we leverage Stennis Space Center, the more opportunities we will see, and more long term success for Picayune and Pearl River County,” LaFontaine stated.


LaFontaine said he also wants to work with the City of Picayune to improve the City Ordinance 765 to help create more opportunities for development of downtown properties. He said, that to his knowledge, there have not been any businesses to apply for this tax abatement program, and he feels that modifying the ordinance could prove beneficial for the City of Picayune’s downtown district. (To view the current City Ordiance # 765, click on the link below):

https://picayunemainstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Tax-Abatement-Ordinance-765.pdf

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