Past, future economic development potential, celebrated community partnerships

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The third installment of the First Friday Forum’s bicentennial edition was part of a larger process of remembering the past and looking ahead Friday that passed the walls of Clayton Hall at First United Methodist Church.

Jackson House Speaker Kyle Spurgeon gave the keynote speech at the event, as the October theme for the year-long celebration is commerce and industry.

Spurgeon said when he started working on the speech months ago, he came across a 1979 speech given by former local business developer Julian Townsend that he taught at the first Jackson Leadership class.

The speech began by focusing on the main areas necessary for the economic development of a region: new jobs, an improved labor market, attracting new construction, a diversified economy and the injection of new money from different regions.

“Sounds a lot like what economic development needs now, doesn’t it? Spurgeon asked the crowd of about 100 people gathered.

Although the new and old businesses mentioned in the speech of 42 years ago may be different from a similar speech today, the goals and basic methods to achieve those goals remain consistent.

Following the announcement earlier in the week of Ford Motor Company’s arrival at the Memphis Regional Megasite in Haywood County, Spurgeon said the goal of the Jackson Chamber is to compete for the residents who will come. with assembly plants.

“We’ve worked together to bring Ford and SK Innovation here, but now we’ll be competing with Lakeland and Collierville and Germantown for people,” Spurgeon said. “But we’re in a situation where we can choose what we hire, and we want the best so that we have the best in attracting people to live here in Madison County and surrounding areas.”

After Spurgeon’s presentation, Toyota manager Jason Bates was called to the podium for an announcement.

The local factory was in talks with its offices to donate a vehicle to a local group that could use it. Bates was able to convince the company to donate five, and they all went to schools in Jackson-Madison County to help transport students from the local options and opportunities program.

Each of the five JMCSS high schools received a Toyota Sienna van to allow students who cannot be part of LOOP due to lack of transportation to have this ability to travel to the workforce development center. work or their LOOP job in a place like Black & Decker or Toyota or the JMCSS central office.

“They wanted to donate to a nonprofit or group that really makes a difference in the community, and I thought about that and how many more students could be a part of LOOP if they had. a means of transportation, ”Bates said. .

The announcement came after official recognition earlier today of the Jackson Central-Merry Early College High Workforce Development Center with a ribbon cut.

“Workforce Development is hosted at Jackson Central-Merry Early College High, but we serve students from all high schools,” Lewis said. “No high school has all of the programs that we offer, so we had a lot of different people there today to celebrate what we’re doing there. “

JMCSS Superintendent Marlon King said he appreciates the buzz around JMCSS right now, but attributes this to the range of community partnerships the district enjoys, such as with Toyota.

“We’re winning right now because we’re winning together,” King said. “And this is another example of a partner in our community who is committed to helping our children succeed.”

Contact Brandon Shields at [email protected] or 731-425-9751. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or on Instagram at editorbrandon.


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