Wyatt’s World

Let’s all support our locally-owned businesses

This is the week for holiday season parties. Have fun and try not to eat too much.

After a beautifully dry and mild November, the Mississippi winter now kicks in. Grab the jackets and sweaters.

Fortunately for all of us, the Mississippi winter is just cold enough to help us forget the blazing heat of summer. A few cold snaps, and then it’s spring. How perfect!

If you enjoy the change of seasons, Mississippi’s weather is just about perfect. Maybe one less month of summer would help but you can’t have everything.

The Northside Sun received an early Christmas present: The City of Jackson finally (almost) finished repaving Briarwood Drive.

It took six months. In May, we had a week of activity, followed by six months of a half-paved street. Apparently, the minority contractor couldn’t timely alter the curbs for wheelchair access. Typical bureaucratic mess of the tail wagging the dog.

Hopefully, the repaved road will reduce the thousands of dollars I have spent on new tires, rims, struts, shocks and various suspension components. Talk about penny wise and pound foolish.

With a new mayor, perhaps things will improve for Jackson residents. It couldn’t get much worse. At least we have a new public works director with some experience.

One visible sign of Jackson’s governmental incompetence is the landscaping along the roads and bypasses. Weeds have grown up, there’s no edging. It looks shabby, a big contrast to Ridgeland and Madison where road landscaping actually gets done.

The new mayor disappointed me by appointing a bunch of college administrators to run the city. They may well learn on the job, but few of the top folks in his administration have hands-on experience running a city, much less turning one around.

Nevertheless, there are positive signs in Jackson: The fancy Westin Hotel downtown, the new District off I-55 and, of course, the beautiful new history and civil rights museums.

The new Capitol Complex, a creation of the state Legislature, will infuse new money and leadership for the downtown area. Let’s start by paving the roads.

Like it or not, outsiders will judge Jackson, and Mississippi as a whole, by the beauty and success of its downtown area. In that regard, all Mississippians have an interest in a vibrant downtown.

A vibrant downtown might also help our state to attract young talent. Young singles tend to like upbeat urban environments, thus the amazing success of places like Nashville and Austin.

It is a chicken or the egg problem. We need urban dwellers to attract businesses but nobody wants to live in a dead downtown.

It can be done. Memphis did it and even Birmingham has now resuscitated its downtown area, thanks in part to $240 million in historic tax credits provided by the state.

Part of the problem is the entire state of Mississippi has been in the economic doldrums for the last 10 years. Our recovery from the Great Recession has been one of the worst in the nation.

Perhaps the worst is over. The American economy is definitely getting better. GDP growth is the best it’s been in a decade. The new tax bill is likely to further spur economic growth. Sooner or later some of that will positively affect Mississippi.

We should all try to support our locally-owned businesses. That money stays in our city and state and gets recirculated. The money we spend at the big national companies gets swept away.

This Christmas season we should support our local retailers. Times are particularly challenging for them as online giants such as Amazon suck away dollars.

The Northside Sun, of course, is not immune. Our biggest competitors are now Facebook and Google. I cringe when I see local companies advertise on these foreign platforms. We’ve got to stick together!

Indeed, technology is constantly changing the economy. I can remember when NAFTA started and we lost so many jobs. There was great worry, yet our employment rate is now 4.9 percent. We do adapt, although it can often be stressful.

No one can stop the march of technology, but while it creates consolidation in some areas it can promote new small business opportunities in others. We must suck it up and embrace the change.

Even today, about half the jobs in America are created by companies with fewer than 500 employees. These smaller companies actually provide most of the growth.

My fall-back job was always to be a Wal-Mart greeter. When Amazon started killing Wal-Mart, my new fallback was to be an Amazon warehouse forklift operator. But now with driverless vehicles, I guess that’s out too.

Recently, I attended the bicentennial festivities downtown. I wanted to attend to acknowledge my love for Mississippi and to help wish her a happy 200th birthday. It was an uplifting event. All the speakers talked about unity and love and Mississippi’s bright future. Truly, it seems that Mississippi’s racist past is truly past. Can we please change the flag now?

I was irritated by those who about boycotted the celebration because President Trump planned to attend. How silly! He is our President.

I was never an Obama fan, but I respected the will of the people and respected him as my President. At some point we have to leave politics aside and be Americans. Unity and patriotism has been a great hallmark of our nation.

It’s hard for me to equate Trump’s desire to enforce our immigration laws with racism. That’s a real stretch. It was an honor for President Trump to attend the Mississippi bicentennial celebration. We should be grateful, not spiteful.

You have to be from somewhere. It’s interesting to see how my ancestors got here. Each of us has a reason we are here. Our common fates have made us Mississippians.

In this day and age, national allegiance is far stronger than state allegiance. Even so, we should all feel a common tie as Mississippians.

We should remember how blessed we are. Our state’s not perfect, but we have a great future to look forward to.

Wyatt Emmerich is publisher of The Northside Sun in Jackson and owner of Emmerich Newspapers.

Holly Springs South Reporter

P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
PH: (662) 252-4261
FAX: (662) 252-3388
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