Business and city leaders discussed infrastructure needs, flooding problems, electric rates and development Tuesday morning at the inaugural business round table sponsored by the Jackson Chamber of Commerce.
In what both business leaders and city officials expect to become a regular conversation, about two dozen business owners and managers met with Mayor Barbara Lohr and city administrator Jim Roach for about an hour.
The fruits of the discussions "have yet to be seen," Roach said after the session at the Jackson Chamber of Commerce office. "It is always good to have an open dialogue. We can't read people's minds if they don't tell us."
The "Small Business Alliance," as it is called, is the brainchild of Marvin Wormington Sr., vice president of the chamber board of directors. As the meeting closed, Wormington told the assembled businessmen and women that they need to participate to make their voices heard. "This thing is only going to work if you make it work," he said.
Jackson leaders are counting on the new Interstate 55 interchange at East Main Street to generate a burst of new business growth in the community.
Developer Jim Maevers of Maevers Management Co. asked Lohr and Roach about the prospects of attracting business, which companies had committed to the new area and which were looking at locating there.
City officials did not name any businesses. Lohr noted that the proposal for restrictive zoning, called an overlay district, is pending before the board of aldermen. The proposed rules would limit the type of businesses, regulate the height of signs and road access points and set standards for building materials used in new construction.
Luring businesses will support the city, Roach said. But leaders in city hall need help understanding what established businesses want there as well, he said.
"You are all here, and you have been part of the community for a long time," he said.
Other issues discussed included the need to put asphalt on county roads recently annexed into the city, putting up signs to direct people to the Industrial Park and other businesses and rebuilding High Street in downtown Jackson.
The city is seeking a grant to help with the work on High Street, which will include the placing of antique-style lighting and replacing concrete sidewalks with brick, Roach said.
Future sessions will focus on single issues in depth, said Mary Beth Williams, chamber executive director.
335-6611, extension 126