Progress made, but obstacles remain
Four months into the year the Yazoo Chamber of Commerce has welcomed four new businesses to the community. That’s encouraging news for Yazoo City, especially considering that these new businesses are spread out over the community.
Mutual Credit Union was the first to open, providing a serious boost to the new life seen in the Fifteenth Street business district. Manager Diane Copes reported that the Yazoo branch welcomed more new business upon opening than any other Mutual branch.
Next up was Tom’s On Main, which has been a tremendous blessing to the efforts to revitalize Main Street. The place is packed every time I visit.
The Chamber then welcomed Visions Physical Therapy. The business opened next to Rite Aid, filling the only void in that shopping center that had been briefly vacant. With renovations taking place at the former Essco location next to McDade’s, our shopping centers will all be at full capacity.
That’s something that many communities would love to be able to say, especially those in the Delta.
Taste A Vision was the most recent new business to join the Chamber. This new restaurant not only offers another great dining experience, but it also brings much needed life to the former Kentucky Fried Chicken location downtown. Yazoo needs a strong restaurant in that location, and native daughter Carol Jean Ellis seams to have a plan for a business that will thrive.
These small businesses are part of the backbone of our community. More are on the horizon, and I’m looking forward to cutting some more ribbons in the coming months.
Despite all of the positive momentum, great obstacles remain. None are greater than the dysfunctional state of affairs within our city school district.
In the two city council meetings since the district was placed on probation by the state’s accreditation board, the issue hasn’t even been discussed. Our aldermen aren’t responsible for running the school district, but they are responsible for appointing the people who are. With all of the problems that currently exist, it would seem like a good time to be hearing from these appointees about their plans to turn things around.
There is no bigger issue in our community today. It should be treated like the emergency that it is.
The city has made some real progress in the battle against blight. Those efforts have hit another gear since Russ Carter was hired as building inspector.
But it’s no small task. There are many dilapidated properties in the city. Cleaning them up is a sensitive issue that elected officials are often reluctant to address, but it’s something that is critical to the welfare of any city.
Abandoned homes or buildings with overgrown lots spread like cancer in neighborhoods. Few people with the means to get away from such filth will tolerate it. And why would they?
I recently had a conversation with a business owner who was considering making a significant investment in Yazoo City, but he was concerned that the town might be dying. His concern was based on the observation that he saw dilapidated properties in the historic district of town and even spotted a house that had clearly burned long ago still standing on North Street. It was inconceivable to him that a healthy town would tolerate such a mess.
As much ink as I’ve dedicated to this subject, some of you may be wishing that I’d climb down from my soap box and move on to another topic, but I believe we must stay on top of this issue before the problem becomes insurmountable. We’re making progress, but we must keep our feet firmly placed on the accelerator if we want to keep moving forward.