Thursday, November 30, 2006
Northcentral sees great growth
By BARRY BURLESON
Change and growth were the key words in Kevin Doddridge’s presentation November 16 during the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce membership luncheon.
Doddridge is general manager of Northcentral Electric Power Association, which hosted the meeting, and the member-owned co-op has grown from 1,500 consumers when founded in 1950 to 27,000 consumers today. Those 27,000 meters affect in excess of 100,000 individuals in portions of Marshall, DeSoto, Tate and Lafayette counties.
“At the moment, 70 percent of all consumers and 80 percent of all revenue come from DeSoto County, but we are seeing signs of that changing as Marshall County is growing,” Doddridge said.
“We serve one of the fastest growing areas in the country. The secret is out about North Mississippi.”
When formed, Northcentral had $1 million in assets with annual revenues topping $31,000 and a $100,000 annual budget. Today, assets top $90 million, annual revenues exceed $66 million and the fiscal year 2007 budget is at $92 million.
“We are not a small company anymore,” Doddridge said.
Northcentral is handling the growth by planning, planning and more planning.
“It’s so much more than hooking up people,” Doddridge said. “We work on a three-year and 20-year plan. Three is a relatively firm plan of work. Twenty contains some contingencies or what ifs. Goals are established and prioritized.”
He said new consumers differ from those of the past.
“Electricity has moved from a luxury to a necessity,” Doddridge said.
Of utmost importance now are computers, manufacturers and home comforts, he said, and “Northcentral must work to make your expectations our expectations.”
The local electric power association serving the Byhalia area is constantly working on improving quality. System improvements will cost $13 million over the next three years, according to Doddridge.
Overall costs are a challenge. Power transformers priced at $325,000 a year ago now exceed $625,000 in cost. Fuel prices have a large effect on Northcentral, he said. The power association operates more than 60 vehicles and pieces of equipment.
“There are challenges, but also opportunity,” he said. “Northcentral feels as though we can meet these concerns head on and continue to add value to North Mississippi through competitive rates and reliable electric service. The status quo won’t cut it anymore. Demands on Northcentral change, and we must be flexible enough to change to meet them.”
Also during the meeting, Doddridge presented two checks for $1,000 each to Sheriff Kenny Dickerson, one for the Morgan Shaw Fund and the other a grant to the sheriff’s department.
“Nothing gets your attention more than when a child has been abducted. In our county, when that happened, the child was found,” said Doddridge, praising the leadership of Sheriff Dickerson.
In other activities, the Chamber recognized all veterans in attendance. Members of the Holly Springs High School Junior ROTC – Justin Johnson, Rodney Parker, Richard Jones, Elijah Thigpen and Marqual Crane – presented the colors. Major J.D. Hamilton Jr., instructor of the Holly Springs High School ROTC led the Pledge of Allegiance and invocation. Blaine Tooley sang the national anthem.
Mika Joyner, chamber president, recognized Mike Bradford for his many years of service on the board.
Sarah Sawyer, chamber director, said the organization is gearing up for its 2007 Chamber Champions campaign.
“Without our sponsorship program, there would be no chamber,” she said.
Sawyer also recognized approximately 60 new chamber members in 2006. The goal is to get 40 more before the end of the year.
Don Hollingsworth, public works director for the City of Holly Springs, talked about the recent groundbreaking for the Alliance Healthcare Complex. He emphasized that the new medical facilities will be for all of Marshall County and neighboring counties, too.
Chamber representative Blaine Tooley said the membership drive in September and October, conducted by four teams of four people each, resulted in 20 new members. The one who recruited the most new members, Marv Cranford, received special recognition.
Amy Presley urged participation in the 2007 Leadership Plenty class in Marshall County.
“It’s a great program with lots of networking opportunities,” she said. “You get to know a lot more about your community.”
Those interested are urged to contact the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce at 662-838-8127 or the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce at 252-2943.
Presley urged industries to get involved and enroll employees in the team-building leadership program.
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