CORINTH – Every economic development entity, every chamber of commerce and every regional economic alliance talks about growth, new jobs and ways to bring increased prosperity to their locales. But in Corinth and Alcorn County, their leaders are not just talking about growth – they’re planning for it.
First there’s the transportation angle. State highways 2 and 350 and U.S. 45 and U.S. 72 provide excellent routes east and west and north and south to Corinth. Upon completion, Interstate 22 will connect Birmingham, Ala., and Memphis, Tenn., along the route of U.S. 72.
Second, Corinth remains the crossroads of the Norfolk Southern and the Kansas City Southern railways and is the terminus of the Redmont Railway connecting Corinth with Red Bay, Ala., and is the home of a marshalling yard.
The fact that Corinth was also a railroad crossroads in 1862 was the reason for Corinth’s military importance during the Civil War. Because two major railroads, the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, running east and west, and the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, running north and south, crossed in its downtown in that era, Corinth was coveted by Union and Confederate military leaders alike.
In great measure, the Battle of Shiloh on April 6-7, 1862, was fought over control of Corinth’s railroads and the ensuing Siege of Corinth in May, 1862, ultimately saw the city fall to Union occupation until 1864. Corinth’s historic place in the Civil War and the proximity to the pivotal Shiloh battlefield put the city in the historical tourism business for many years.
Indeed, the National Park Service has in recent years built an impressive Civil War Interpretive Center in Corinth as part of the Shiloh National Battlefield and it’s one of the finest facilities of its kind in the nation.
And while Corinth has indeed explored and developed historical tourism as part of their economic development mix, the leadership of the Corinth and Alcorn County Alliance – and the governments business communities they represent – have been far more aggressive and forward-thinking in their efforts to bring more and better jobs to the area.
The Alliance has a huge 430-acre East Kendrick Site that has rail access crossing the property as a centerpiece of several tracts of property available for development. There are several buildings, including the mammoth 630,000 square foot former Quad Color building available to industrial prospects.
Perhaps most intriguing is the Clifford G. Worsham Surface Water Treatment Facility on U.S. Highway 72, Corinth’s $50 million water treatment plant and distribution system. Local officials knew that while there was no immediate water shortage for Corinth, the Paleozoic aquifer that supplied the city’s water was also supplying area rural water associations and would eventually be depleted.
The city of Corinth Public Utilities Commission gained approval from the Tennessee Valley Authority, Corps of Engineers and the state of Mississippi to construct a surface water project and utilize the Tennessee River via the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway as the water supply source. The system brings 10 million to 16.5 million gallons of water per day – which leaves Corinth with a water surplus sufficient to attract major industrial water customers, including even a meat processing plant.
Let’s see – transportation, utilities, plenty of land, available buildings and a water surplus, check. But there’s another economic development tool that Corinth and Alcorn County didn’t forget. The community has an excellent public school system and continues to invest in that system.
A windshield tour of Corinth and Alcorn County reveals a community with vision that has put their money where their mouth is in planning and building for growth. It’s hard to imagine that a major economic development project isn’t in their future and sooner than later.
Daily Corinthian columnist Sid Salter is syndicated across the state. Contact him at 601-507-8004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.