The Mississippi Department of Transportation announced this week the first round of road paving projects stemming from the new lottery have been approved.
The contracts awarded this week will have little, if any, effect on the heart of the Delta, which continues to suffer from deteriorating infrastructure.
We know that every county in the state is suffering from deteriorating infrastructure, but state officials would have been wise to include at least one impactful project in our region.
Economic development organizations, business recruiters and mayors already have a difficult time recruiting and retaining businesses in the heart of the Delta due to deteriorating education, population and workforce.
Those issues will continue to haunt us, but as tens of thousands of citizens – most who struggle financially - in the Delta buy lottery tickets every day, it would stand to reason that they should see some sort of return on that investment.
There are probably projects for our region in the pipeline.
We’ll probably see a stretch of road or two get paved in the next year, but the Delta needs more than that.
This region is long overdue for a comprehensive infrastructure plan geared toward making each county more attractive to outside businesses.
Over the course of the next few years, MDOT will be playing catchup with the lottery revenue.
The state is already billions of dollars behind when it comes to properly funding infrastructure, but that does not mean that we shouldn’t be planning for when this shortfall hopefully is under control.
The region has to take some responsibility in the matter and do a better job of educating children and reducing its brain drain, but the state cannot continue to keep pumping money into the same regions, neglecting the Delta and expecting a different outcome.
Sales Tax Shortfall
The sales tax disbursement data released by the Mississippi Department of Revenue last week does not yet reflect the eventual shortfall municipalities are expecting in the months ahead.
Indianola actually had a modest increase in sales tax revenue in March, but those numbers will likely change as we head into a potential third month of closure for the city’s biggest tourist attraction in the B.B. King Museum.
The museum’s closure is impactful for many reasons.
For one, the museum depends heavily on visitors, and those visitors dine at our restaurants and stay at our motels.
The museum also services all of Sunflower County through education programs and hosting events like conferences and weddings.
With a multimillion dollar expansion in progress, we are looking forward to the days when the doors to the museum and the country are reopened.
Even with the economic devastation the coronavirus has caused, it will never be said that folks in Indianola failed to do their part to help.
So many of our local restaurants have been able to keep their doors open because people have been more dedicated to buying local and eating out, even if it is curbside pickup.
Hopefully this trend will get us over the hump, and we will begin to see an uptick in sales tax revenue as fall approaches.
It has been truly amazing to see how the citizens in this town and in Sunflower County have dedicated themselves to shopping at local restaurants and shops during this difficult time.
We are certainly all in this together, and thankfully, there is light at the end of the tunnel.