The Town of Pelahatchie Comprehensive Plan developed by the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District (CMPDD) has received two prestigious awards. The first was a 2016 Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation. NADO is a Washington, DC-based association that promotes programs and policies that strengthen local governments, communities, and economies through regional cooperation, program delivery, and comprehensive strategies. The association’s Innovation Awards program recognizes regional development organizations and partnering organizations for improving the economic and community competitiveness of our nation’s regions and local communities. Award winners were showcased during NADO’s 2016 Annual Training Conference, held October 15-18 in San Antonio, Texas.
The Pelahatchie Plan’s second award was the Best Project Award from the Mississippi Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-MS). This award recognizes best practices, results, and state-of-the-art planning methods for an outstanding plan. The award was presented to CMPDD at the Mississippi and Alabama Chapters of the American Planning Association (APA) Joint Annual Conference, held September 14-16 in Biloxi, Mississippi.
This new plan is a first of its kind in Mississippi in that it incorporates an online version with an interactive digital format that is linked to a GIS map viewer. Those viewing the plan are able to view all areas of the town and activate various map layers such as land use, zoning, infrastructure, building footprints, community services, and ward boundaries. The user may also view aerial photography, as well as topographic and street maps.
The new online version of Pelahatchie’s Comprehensive Plan is not only a guide to growth and development, but is also an economic development tool that highlights the character and small town atmosphere that people and businesses find when coming to Pelahatchie. The award winning Comprehensive Plan may be viewed at www.pelahatchie.org.
Another NADO Innovation Award winner was a project for the City of Raymond. Just behind the historic water tank on Town Square are two public buildings, the Raymond City Hall and the Municipal Courtroom. City Hall was built in 1956 and the Municipal Courtroom building was built in 1940 and while both of these buildings appear to be structurally sound, neither meets modern building accessibility and life safety codes in a wide array of problem areas. An important part of preparing for economic growth, is having a City Hall that is attractive and inviting to potential businesses and industries, as well as the residents. While meeting with CMPDD, officials determined that making Americans with Disabilities Act improvements to these two building would be eligible for a grant through the Mississippi Development Authority. CMPDD completed, submitted, and received approval of a $450,000 CDBG Public Facilities grant to renovate the two government buildings and now both buildings are welcoming, functional, and accessible and give Raymond the appearance of being the thriving community that it is.
The third Innovation Award winner was the expansion of McNeely Plastics. McNeely Plastic Products, Inc. is an existing industry that wished to expand their production to include printing on the plastic bags they produced but they did not have the room to expand at their current location in Clinton, MS. The Copiah County Economic Development District found them an available building located in the Copiah County Industrial Park. CMPDD staff began coordinating meetings between the Copiah County Economic Development District, Copiah County Board of Supervisors, McNeely Plastics, and the Mississippi Development Authority to give everyone a good understanding of the needs of McNeely Plastic and Copiah County. As a result of these meetings, CMPDD prepared, submitted, and received approval of grants from several sources to partially fund this needed expansion and keep them in Mississippi and inside the District’s geographic area at the Copiah County Industrial Park.
As a result of this project, Copiah County Economic Development District and Copiah County were able to fill an empty building in the Copiah County Industrial Park and McNeely Plastics was able to expand their business and print their bags in-house instead of incurring the extremely high cost of outsourcing them. Additionally, McNeely Plastics committed to provide 25 new full time jobs for this project and invest $5,000,000.