JACKSON, MS (WLBT) – A group of Jackson leaders from both the public and private sector has been in Chattanooga on a fact finding mission. It is the fourth such excursion for the Downtown Jackson Partners sponsored trip. They're hoping the information will help transform downtown Jackson.
Folks who know Chattanooga say there was a time when the only thing you wanted to do was get out of town. In 1969, it was said to the most polluted city in the nation. That was this…this is now. This city of about 170, 000, has become a destination with attractions like the Riverwalk, a children's museum, an IMAX and aquarium. Once abandoned buildings, have been transformed into trendy restaurants, shops and lounges. And there is a free, electric shuttle system that, so far, pays for itself. It is also becoming a residential district with 33-hundred housing units now located in downtown Chattanooga. It's the kind of success this diverse group hopes to duplicate in Jackson. In this meeting at the city's Chamber of Commerce office, mayor's of both the city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County, are sharing their knowledge.
Hamilton County mayor Claude Ramsey said, "You've got some questions about these governments working together. First let me say we work together very well."
Chattanooga's renaissance has been so successful that representatives of 65 U. S. cities and several international cities have come here to see what it is they're doing so right.
Asked his impression of what he had seen so far, Duane O'Neil, president and CEO of the Greater Jackson Chamber of Commerce said, "I'm very impressed. I'm impressed with the pride the people of Chattanooga and Tennessee have. The downtown is looking wonderful and is very vibrant right now. There's such a renaissance from where they've been for those of us that have seen this area a few years ago until now. It shows it can be done in a relatively short amount of time. And I think there's so much for us to learn on these types of trips."
Jason Goree of Watkins Development was also impressed with what he saw.
Goree said, "I'm impressed with the pride the people of Chattanooga and Tennessee have. They are proud to say they are from Chattanooga."
Words like planning and unity continually come up in these exploratory missions, but everyone agrees any positive change that comes to Jackson won't happen overnight and it won't be cheap. For example, Chattanooga's hotel tax is 16-percent compared to Jackson's 9-percent. Some in this group say it is an investment that will eventually pay off handsomely for Mississippi's capitol city.
A recent Atlanta Constitution newspaper article calls Jackson a popular destination for musicians because of the Malaco Music Group, which has recorded gospel and soul music here since 1968.
Jackson also made Convention South Magazine's list of top 5 spots in the south for sensible meetings.
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