Tamika Jenkins, executive director of the Hinds County Development Authority, stepped into her role about a year ago with the goal to attract businesses to set up shop in the county.
With a $10,000 Entergy Mississippi grant plus funds from the development authority, the county will complete a $35,000 plan for business retention.
“Basically, (we’re) working on a strategy on how we want to attract and retain businesses in Hinds County,” Jenkins told the Mississippi Free Press. “Also, there’ll be a marketing aspect to that, promoting Hinds County as a great place to do business.”
Entergy Mississippi announced on May 24 that it is spreading $60,000 among eight in-state economic development partnerships for marketing, strategic planning and site work through its Excellerator Competitive Communities program.
“It was decided (when the program started in 2016) that our communities needed to be able to become more competitive in the process of economic development,” Entergy Mississippi Development Manager Chris Hinton told the Mississippi Free Press.
The Excellerator Competitive Communities program has given over 60 grants to communities since its 2016 inception. To be eligible for a grant, a community must have an economic development foundation and be in Entergy Mississippi’s 45-county service area. The communities must provide matching funds for their intended projects.
“We review all the applications that come in and base decisions on which ones are the most innovative, which applications are the most detailed in terms of the scope of the project, also looking at the budget of the project and our overall budget that we have allocated for this particular program and the need in the local community or the region,” Hinton said.
Jenkins said Hinds County had not applied for the grant in a few years and needed the monetary support to boost the area’s marketing.
“Hinds County has kind of been suffering from disinvestment and many businesses leaving, so I think Entergy saw importance for the capital county to get a plan in place to keep businesses and to attract more businesses here,” Jenkins said.
The Claiborne County Economic Development District, Jefferson Davis County Economic Development District, Pike County Economic Development District, Rankin First Economic Development Authority, Port of Rosedale and Vicksburg-Warren Partnership are using Entergy grants they received for marketing.
Hinton said the marketing aspect can involve communities producing drone footage to showcase the aerial view of properties on the market and sharing the videos on their websites and social media platforms to reach potential investors. Entergy also uploads drone footage on its site selection website.
Entergy Mississippi gave the Vicksburg-Warren Partnership about $9,000 to update its current website and create a new website for the Port of Vicksburg. President and CEO of the partnership Pablo Diaz explained why the port needs a separate online presence.
“We need a website that could take investors through all the important elements of the new development without them, you know, having the problem of potentially getting lost,” Diaz told the Mississippi Free Press. “And so, we want to create a specific website for that new port development.”
Diaz said he was grateful for Entergy’s support of Mississippi community development.
“Even when you don’t get (the grant), you know that you can count on Entergy to support your short-term and long-term economic development efforts,” Diaz said. “In this case, we got the grant, and we’re very excited because they’re gonna allow us to accelerate our improvement, which we believe are gonna be very beneficial in helping us attract more jobs.”
Hinton said the Tate County Economic Development Foundation is using its $10,000 grant for “due diligence work” at the Greenfield Industrial Site in Coldwater.
He said communities that receive Entergy grants are often able to leverage funding from the state and federal government because Entergy has vetted the project.
“We’ve got to partner well with our local counties, and we have to support our local counties in terms of attracting new businesses, helping to retain existing businesses and helping those existing businesses expand,” Hinton said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said the program had given “grants to over 60 communities.” It has been corrected to say that the program has given “over 60 grants to communities.”