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Chickasaw County changing focus for jobs, industry

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Updated: 10/15/2013 10:52 pm
HOUSTON, Miss. (WTVA) -- For a county that's dealt with double-digit unemployment since May 2012, those who call Chickasaw County home are optimistic about what lies ahead.

"We're trying to stimulate excitement within the community," Chickasaw Development Foundation Chairman John Walden said.

On Tuesday night, the foundation discussed new strategies with its members, hoping to harness future industry and economic prosperity.

"When an industry comes in, they look at area employment, regional employment. They realize people will drive," CDF Director Joyce East said. "They look at how the communities interact. Perhaps they didn't look at that in the 1950s."

They're doing that by changing what they've looked to for the last several decades -- their mission, their logo and their approach -- including more efforts to improve tourism in Houston.

Their greatest asset for that now: Tanglefoot Trail.

"We're going to do a lot of fun things on the trail. All of that will benefit first our citizens, and we have people in the area that are just thrilled to come to Houston," East said. "It's safe. You don't have to worry about traffic."

Walden said they're also participating in a multi-county approach.

With the help of Three Rivers Planning and Development, they hope to land industry in their new megasite very soon, which takes much of the pressure to seek industrial bids off the foundation.

"That gives us an opportunity to concentrate on a narrow area such as our own communities in building quality of life for our citizens as well as recruiting in the professional and retail areas," Walden said.

Of course, all of that starts with an idea or vision, Walden adds, and from what he's seen, residents are already buying into it.

The Chickasaw Development Foundation started in 1953.

Tuesday night's changes were the first major ones in 60 years.
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