Some big and powerful people filled the Civic Center on Tuesday night for the much-anticipated unveiling of the Prairie Belt PowerSite that economic developers hope one day will house a billion dollar industry and provide hundreds of jobs to people in this region.
Heidi Smith with the Tennessee Valley Authority, Steve Wallace with the Tombigbee River Valley Management Association and Jim Parker with the Mississippi Development Authority all spoke to the crowd that exceeded 300 people from the community and surrounding area.
That impressive group, along with Joe Max Higgins from the LINK and Clay County Economic Developer Ron Maloney together are not as big and powerful as the citizens that showed up to see what all the fuss was about.
They are the reason why this site is so important.
It was not just a crowd of everyday suits, older gentlemen rubbing elbows with political dignitaries or the most successful businessmen around. Sure those folks were there, but it was the high school students, the graduates looking for work, men, women, African American and white.
It was the community together in one room looking at something that could very well bring jobs back to the county.
Older, retired people looked as intensely at the eight Story Boards that were set up to tell the story of the Prairie Belt site as did the young folks. Perhaps their children and grandchildren will have something in a few short years that will keep them here instead of splitting families who have to move elsewhere to find work.
High school students who normally would be doing things teenagers do like sports or video games were at the Civic looking at blueprints because they understand the severity of the situation this community, the state and the nation are in today.
They hear of the stories of college graduates struggling to find work and of how Bachelor’s Degrees are no longer a safe bet for finding a job.
While it’s important for all of the county, city, state and LINK officials to be on hand for such an important event, lost in the crowd at times are the desperate citizens hungry to work, wanting to know what they can do and what part they play in bringing jobs back to West Point.
It was special to see teenagers and people in their twenties listening with eagerness at the words of state officials.
That’s who this is all about. It’s about the citizens of the future having a reason to stay here, and after tonight, they may just have one.