The idea of asset mapping comes from a positive approach to revitalization and community development. Instead of considering what we don’t have, we look at what we do have and how we can best utilize what we do have to become a better, stronger and more viable community. The greater Laurel community is unique in so many ways and there are things that set it apart from other areas of our state. Not only do we possess a plethora of highly creative and educated individuals, we have a determination to make things happen, to see something through to completion. It’s time to take a look at those things and begin to figure out ourselves what we can do market our uniqueness. The time to build consensus has come. What do we want this community to look like and how do we get there from here? According to Mississippi Highway Department Statistics, 340,000 cars travel Interstate 59 passing Laurel everyday. My question is simple, do they stop? Do they spend? Do they know what we have to offer?
Laurel Main Street has embarked on a series of events with the singular goal of bringing people downtown and getting them involved in its progress. We’ve asked for the advice and assistance of the Mississippi Development Authority in marking what we have to offer from the viewpoint of folks, who don’t live here, didn’t grow up here and quite possibly have never been here before. With cooperation and partnership from the Economic Development Authority of Jones County and the Jones County Chamber of Commerce as well as our city and county elected officials, we’ve created maps and had conversations rich in opportunities waiting to happen.
It’s time to put it all together and actualize the goals and commitments from the time of the Carl’s Small Town report, The Laurel Charette, and the more recent asset mapping team visit and report to the community. We have visited other like communities, spoken with their leadership and witnessed years of planning come to fruition through more years of hard work and dedication to the dream.
Now is the time to step together to get where we want to go so we can continue to bring our children up in the unique and lovely atmosphere we know as Laurel and Jones County. Let’s let 2013 be the year of action!