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2009 – the year in review

Local manufacturing plant Delta Wire announced on Aug. 6 that it would be shutting down operations effective immediately. Clarksdale Plant Manager Gary Downey attributed the plant’s closing to the general nationwide economic downturn and a drop in tire sales. 76 employees lost their jobs as a result of the plant closing.

A week later, in response to the Delta Wire closing, District 26 Rep. Chuck Espy called a meeting with local politicians and businessmen to discuss the future of Clarksdale without Delta Wire.

At this session, Delta Regional Authority Co-Chairman Pete Johnson offered the following during the meeting, “For us to sit here and think we are not on the road to extinction we are kidding ourselves.”

Out of this meeting the Coahoma County Initiative (CCI) was birthed. According to Johnson it began as a business roundtable with six local residents who were concerned about the future of Coahoma County. The group quickly grew to 35 then 65 attendees.

Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center (NWMRMC) Chief Executive Officer Jack Hill and Chief Operating Officer Joe Webb were asked to spearhead the initiative during the planning phase. Both said that they want to see grassroots’ input from all groups, communities, and sectors in Coahoma County. They were tasked with forming an executive committee and sub-committees to address the following six major areas: Education, Housing, Health Care, Economic and Community Development, Tourism, and Leadership.

On Dec. 9, the Walton Family Foundation out of Bentonville, Ark. agreed to fund the CCI, and Southern Bancorp, a community development financial institution, with a proven track record in helping to transform rural communities, will be working with local leaders and concerned citizens to rejuvenate the local economy and the communities within Coahoma County.