Aldermen Advertise For New Economic Development Position

This appeared in the Neshoba Democrat - February 11, 2015

Philadelphia began advertising a new economic development position this week.

The individual would implement economic development and business strategies and troubleshoot problems in an attempt to remove obstacles, the job description said, while promoting the proposed Marty Stuart Center.

The Mayor and Board of Aldermen allocated $50,000 for the position during fiscal 2015, but Mayor James A. Young said the board has no idea what the new position would cost the city as yet.

"We don't know what the market has out there," he said.

Young said the board was hoping to attract some good prospects for the position.

"We are not competing with anyone because the city and county are all one," he said. "We just want to enhance our economic development."

Young said officials could not avoid investing in economic development if they want the city to grow and prosper.

"We definitely plan to grow in every way possible for our community and our people. This is another way to enhance our visual, our marketing, etc.," he said.

The official title for the position is "Special Projects Coordinator for Economic Development."

The individual would work closely with the existing city/county economic development efforts, coordinate and foster special projects and spearhead the beautification of the city, the job description said.

The individual would report directly to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen and would "carry out administrative, financial, operational and strategic initiatives."

The individual would also be responsible for coordinating and generating leads to create capital investment within the city of Philadelphia and to various special projects.

The minimum requirements include a Bachelor's Degree from a Mississippi accredited college in public administration, business administration or equivalent; five or more years of relevant experience; ability to plan, supervise and work with others; knowledge of department and city procedures, ordinances and policies, among others.

The director would, however, initially focus on promoting the Marty Stuart Center that's set to open sometime in the future.

County supervisors have allocated $1 million in state bond monies to renovate the historic Coca-Cola building downtown that will serve as a warehouse for the Stuart collection and then they plan to seek a permanent location, officials have said. The state has already earmarked an additional $500,000 for the Stuart center.

Ward 1 Alderman Josh Gamblin initially made the proposal for the full-time position in January, citing the importance of providing a catalyst for the Stuart center.

Gamblin said he envisions the person being devoted to the cultural center as well as helping Building Official Jay Eakes with a "thorough scrubbing" of the city.

The purpose for the new position, Gamblin said, is to show the city's dedication toward the Stuart Center project, as well as any other future projects that may arise.

The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in 2013 authorizing the transfer of the Coca-Cola building on Center Avenue to the Industrial Development Authority of Neshoba County, noting that it would be renovated and later serve as a warehouse for the Stuart Center.

Supervisors also gave IDA the authority to administer $1 million in state bond monies awarded by the legislature in conjunction with the Marty Stuart Center.

Once the Coca-Cola renovation is complete, the remaining monies could be used to help purchase a suitable building to house the actual center.

Plans for the construction of the actual Marty Stuart Center have not been finalized nor has a location been announced.

The center is expected to house Stuart's vast collection of country music memorabilia, including some belonging to such stars as Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams Sr.

Plans call for items from Stuart's collection to be changed periodically from the warehouse to the center in order to attract visitors on a continual basis.

The Marty Stuart Center stems from the Mississippi Country Music Commission which called Stuart's collection "a living history of country music" which would be "the heart of a center" in Philadelphia.

Last year, the state Legislature gave additional state funds to the proposed center.

Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill to borrow almost $230 million with $500,000 earmarked for the center.

By Debbie Burt Myers

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