Greater Grenada Partnership Gala
The Greater Grenada Partnership held its first annual gala on the evening of March 7th at the Regions Bank to celebrate the successes in economic development, the new partnerships, and Grenada’s future strategic growth. The Region’s Bank was packed to capacity with influencers and community leaders from around the state with nearly three hundred stakeholders in attendance.
The event took time to focus on the newly created Greater Grenada Partnership (GGP). The Boards of Directors of the Grenada Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Grenada Foundation for Economic Development (GGFED) recently formed an alliance between the two organizations, creating a leading community economic development and business advocacy partnership for the Grenada region.
The new alliance unites a shared strategic mission and vision of the Chamber of Commerce and the GGFED. It will build on their economic development strategies, which are designed to diversify and strengthen the Grenada regional economy.
The event also announced a historic partnership with the Delta Council and Delta Strong. Delta Council is an area economic development organization created to represent the Delta and part-Delta counties of Northwest Mississippi. Started in 1935 by a group of far-sighted citizens, they provided a medium through which the agricultural, business, and professional leaderships of the area can work together. Delta Council now pioneers the effort to solve common problems and promote the development of the economy in the Mississippi Delta.
For the past 84 years, the Delta Council has represented eighteen out of the nineteen Delta communities. The leadership of the Greater Grenada Partnership felt that it was time to advocate to join the Delta Council as the last remaining Delta community. Keith Mitchell and Matthew Harrison of the GGP worked diligently over the last year to make this a reality. “This was an exciting, long overdue opportunity to develop a transformative, integrated business advocacy alliance that will allow us to focus on economic development throughout the entire Grenada region,” said Keith Mitchell, who serves as the Chairman of GGFED. “This alliance will foster a coordinated effort by Delta Council, the Delta Strong, the Greater Grenada Partnership and the Grenada region business leaders, in partnership with government, to create economic development opportunities that will benefit the entire spectrum of Delta residents.”
As one of the guest speakers, Mr. Woods Eastland, Delta Council President took the time to explain the historic moment, “It is lost in history why Grenada County was the only part-Delta county not included in the foundation of our regional organization founded in 1935, but this step completes the work of Delta Council and all Delta and part-Delta counties. Grenada has many positive things occurring, and we appreciate their faith in our regional program of work.”
“These are exciting times for the Grenada region, with so many opportunities for growth, yet much work to be accomplished. We felt that creating additional alliances would help us achieve our economic development, community development, and business advocacy targets,” said Matthew Harrison, president of the GGP. “These new alliances will work to fulfill all of those areas as we focus on improving the quality of life for our communities. A regional approach to economic development truly makes logical sense and the Delta Strong team has a proven track record of success.” The Delta Strong was created as a regional branding, marketing, and business attraction program aimed exclusively toward attracting new manufacturing opportunities to the Mississippi Delta. The initiative is supported by private sector financial institutions, the Planning and Development Districts, port terminals on the Mississippi river, local economic development foundations such as the GGP, and the regional utility and infrastructure partners. This strategy, led by the Delta Council Development Department is a four-year plan which includes outcome measurements and transparency that positions the Mississippi Delta region as a major player in the attraction of manufacturing, distribution, and warehousing operations.
Harrison stated, “The Delta Strong team, led by Frank Howell and Mike Philpot, have been instrumental in bringing new development opportunities across the Delta. I have no doubt that our partnership will produce growth in the Grenada manufacturing sector.”
The event also took time to focus on the key accomplishments of Grenada County, the City of Grenada and the Tourism Commission. “The County is pleased to have finalized the southern portion of the Business and Technology Park. The completed park is attracting the attention of companies worldwide and that’s exactly what we wanted. Mr. Harrison showed that we have double the number of projects since the park was completed. Folks were astounded by the number of companies that have researched Grenada and requested information for a potential site location in the park,” stated Darrell Robinson, president of the Grenada County Board of Supervisors. “One of the other great items that folks took note of during the gala was how the presenters showcased the strength of Grenada when we take the time to work together as a team. That’s what the GGP represents, teamwork across Grenada and the Delta.”
Others also noted that same strength. Charles Latham, stated, “The GGP is an excellent opportunity for Grenada to combine the efforts of three great organizations who seek to make Grenada a better place to live, work, and play. By creating an alliance between the GGFED and the Chamber of Commerce, it reduces duplication of efforts while bringing community leaders together to share ideas that will maximize resources. This alliance will lead to a better community and better opportunities for everyone.”
The guest speaker lineup included Glenn L. McCullough Jr., the Executive Director of the Mississippi Development Authority. McCullough took the podium to commend the efforts of the county and city in working together to create an atmosphere of growth. He also praised the efforts of the community leaders who took the initiative to support community development activities, such as the proposed sports complex. “Community development is necessary for attracting a talented workforce.” McCullough noted that growing and expanding companies “notice communities that take pride in their towns and develop community green space and creative placemaking.” McCullough also took time to congratulate Grenada County for their effort in completing the southern portion of the Business and Technology Industrial Park. “Having a completed speculative facility, all utilities in place with a rail spur is something that the community should be proud to have accomplished.
This gives the economic development team an excellent product to market, which many communities cannot claim to have.” Next to take the stage was Tom Gresham, President of Double-Quick Inc and Chairman of the Development Department for the Delta Council. Gresham spoke of the need for additional workforce training for all the Delta counties and was excited that Grenada County and the GGP had kicked off efforts to complete the ACT Work Ready Communities program. ACT (WRC) empowers states, regions, and counties with data, processes, and tools that drive economic growth. Participants are leveraging the ACT Work Keys National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) to measure and close the skills gap — and building common frameworks that link, align, and match their workforce development efforts.
According to Gresham, “The ACT program helps prepare students and residents for skilled jobs that need to be filled in the community. It’s exciting to see Grenada County and the GGP pursue this certification and I look forward to them joining the other Delta counties that have completed this process.”
“Workforce is one of our top priorities this year,” stated Harrison. “We are pleased to partner with the Grenada School District, Holmes Community College and our Planning and Development Districts to foster innovative ways to help further our students’ skillsets. Dr. Diagneault and his staff are doing an excellent job and we appreciate their support of the ACT Workready program. The GGP staff will be sharing more information about the program soon.”
Numerous state and local officials were in attendance at this year’s event, some of these included:
- Grenada County Board of Supervisors
- Greater Grenada Foundation for Economic Development Board of Directors
- Grenada Chamber of Commerce and Greater Grenada Partnership Board of Directors
- City of Grenada Council Members
- Mr. Trey Baker, Grenada City Manager
- Grenada Tourism Commission Board of Directors
- Mr. Gary Worsham, Tourism Executive Director
- Mr. Myles Russell from US Senator Roger Wicker’s Office
- Mr. Bill Crump from US Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s Office
- Mr. Kevin Huran: MS House of Representatives
- Mr. Tommy Reynolds: MS House of Representatives
- Mr. Sam Britton: Mississippi Public Service Commissioner
- Mr. Timothy Baker: United States Department of Agriculture
- Colonel Rick Weaver, Commanding Officer at Camp McCain
- Mr. Chris Hinton, Community Development Manager, Entergy Mississippi
- Mr. Skipp Scaggs, Executive Director of the North MS Industrial Development Association
- Mr. Steve Russell, Executive Director of the North Central Planning and Development District
- Mr. Larry Hart, Chairman of the North Central Mississippi Regional Railroad Authority
And the list continued on. According to Darrell Robinson, “The GGP did an excellent job putting together a memorable event that was professional and informative, and this attracted record level attendance. We were honored to host dignitaries locally and from all across the state. There is an excitement and anticipation within the community about where things are headed.” Several community citizens were also recognized at the gala for their entrepreneurialism, leadership, and community service.
The following six awards were granted:
- Teacher of the Year Award: Mrs. Shann Worsham, Grenada School District
- Teacher of the Year Award: Mrs. Billie Young, Kirk Academy
- Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year Award: Mrs. Kim McRee
- Outstanding Service Award: Mr. Jory and Wanda Thompson
- The Dynamite Kirk Entrepreneurship Excellence Award: Mr. Randy Harrell
- Corporate Citizen of the Year Award: Novipax
Harrison said, “The best is yet to come. As we stated a few months ago, things are moving in the right direction. The railroad is expanding and developing to a robust transportation corridor. We have one new company already scheduled to start moving dirt in the industrial park, and three more projects waiting to be announced. This is not counting the numerous community development project that are on the horizon.”
Harrison feels that the community is making progress and looks forward to more success in the coming year. “We are now ready to move to the next level in our strategic plan. This past year was about building the foundations needed to bridge some of the gaps that have kept us from winning. Each step we’ve taken has been to address those challenges. The partnerships, the alliances, and the bridge building give us the tools needed to address our community economic development plans. Now it’s time to anticipate industrial development wins. It really is an exciting time to be in Grenada.”