Thursday, May 10, 2012
Asset mapping team covers city sites
By SUE WATSON
Holly Springs’ best tourism features will be mapped and put on the Internet for travelers to use in planning trips to the city.
It is the latest of a series of cities and towns over the state to receive the asset mapping service, according to Diana O’Toole with the Mississippi Development Authority’s asset mapping team.
Twelve staffers with the Mississippi Development Authority’s Asset Development Division, MSU Extension Service, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Mississippi Arts Commission joined local volunteers to look at a list of sites in the Holly Springs area. The sites included Strawberry Plains and Duck Pond outside the city limits.
The volunteers split up into four teams armed with GPS locaters and cameras. The sites will be shown on a state website, according to Andy McMillon, executive director of Holly Springs Main Street Association.
The project was initiated by former Main Street executive director Rebecca Bourgeois, McMillon said. The mapping service is offered by MDA through Mississippi Main Street Association, he said.
Forty-two sites were provided as a launching point with the downtown historical district with all its antebellum homes listed as one site, McMillon said. Most of the homes were mapped.
“The list we provided was a starting point and as the teams rode around, they added sites that they thought needed to be added,” he said.
The asset mapping project allows communities to showcase assets, as well as helps tourists view what a community has to offer. Visitors to the website may view the assets and add them to the itinerary of places in Mississippi they want to visit.
Bougeois said she started working a year ago to get Holly Springs on the MDA asset map.
“Bob Barber (city planner) and I identified a few things the Chamber of Commerce could take the lead on,” she said. “I opened a dialog with Joy Foy at MDA who is in charge of all that. Next, we met at a Jackson event and discussed the asset mapping coming to Holly Springs.”
In August 2011, Bourgeois was attending the Mississippi Arts Council summit where the theme was creative economy and then in January 2012 Bourgeois asked for the mapping team to visit the city.
“I think it is important for any community to know what its assets are and to celebrate and market their assets,” Bourgeois said. “Every community needs to know what’s good about it and what makes it a great place to live and do business.”
O’Toole said the division does much more than GPS tagging.
Representatives come for a preliminary visit when a community requests a site map. The community divides the city up into quadrants and a team from MDA and other state agencies comes to help identify sites, obtain GPS coordinates, and to photograph the assets listed. After teams return with their data, they decide the top three assets in each quadrant and how to better use the assets.
MDA then creates a formal report with their findings after they return to Jackson. A private or citywide meeting may be held later to discuss the assets.
To view communities that have asset maps, visit MDA’s community asset maps at www.assetmap.ms.org.
Sixty-nine cities are already mapped and up on the website, including Holly Springs’ neighbors, Batesville, Hernando, New Albany, Sardis, and Senatobia.
Maps may be viewed from a laptop or desktop computer or from some cell phones.
“At this time, any smart phone or Blackberry can access the website,” O’Toole said.
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