Bordered by the Mississippi River to the west and Homochitto National Forest to the southeast, Claiborne County boasts abundant economic, natural, and cultural assets that include Alcorn State University, Port Gibson’s historic downtown, and Entergy’s Grand Gulf Nuclear Station. Despite these assets, Claiborne County was struggling to maintain its population and create robust economic opportunities for all its citizens. Faced with these challenges, the County recognized the need for specific strategies to help guide the community’s economic future.
In January 2009, Claiborne County engaged TIP Strategies to craft an economic development strategic plan. Consultant Mitsu Yamazaki, who later published Portland – Making the Most Livable City in the World and founded a consulting firm in Japan, assisted on this project. The consulting team toured industrial sites, interviewed business and community leaders, and conducted an economic and demographic assessment of the county to better understand its challenges and opportunities. The resulting plan, Claiborne County: An Emerging Regional Destination, recommended the formation of the County’s first formal economic development entity and detailed the structure, funding, operations, and potential collaborations of this new entity. The plan focused on better leveraging existing employers in the county, particularly Grand Gulf Nuclear Station and Alcorn State University. In addition, TIP identified several target sectors for industrial and business development, including agriculture/ag processing, wood products, biomass/biofuels, and retail/leisure. The strategic plan also provided guidance on marketing strategies that would enhance the County’s regional image through tourism promotion and the redevelopment of Port Gibson’s historic downtown.