Calhoun County experiencing economic upswing


BRUCE, Miss. (WCBI) – For many local cities and towns, attracting and keeping businesses can be a challenge.

However, there are ways economic developers are touting unique features of their areas to boost interest and keep businesses.

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It is lunchtime at Jeffrey’s, and business is brisk.

Ellen Shaw’s family opened the gift store and restaurant in 1981 on the square in Bruce. It has been in the same location ever since, weathering good and bad economic times, but remaining a vital part of the town.

Shaw said the business has attracted a loyal following while creating its own niche in downtown. She believed those factors are a recipe for success.

“We have a lot of great support for the community, people who continue to shop with us and we pull from other areas which has been advantageous for us also, lot of hard work, and great local people,” said Shaw.

Like many locally owned businesses, Jeffrey’s is involved in the community.

Shaw is on the Board of Aldermen, and customers can pick up flyers promoting a fundraising drive to help the Bruce High School Band get new uniforms.

The strong sense of community attracts many residents to the area.  Carolyn Bryant and her husband Jerry moved back to Calhoun County after living in the Memphis area for more than 40 years.

“He retired in 95 but we didn’t have the courage to move back until 2002 and we moved back and we haven’t regretted it.  All our friends told us, you can’t go home again, but we found out you could,” said Bryant.

Promoting cities and towns throughout Calhoun County is vital to the area’s economic success.  That’s what organizations like the Bruce Chamber of Commerce does,  in fact, they are having their monthly membership lunch.  It’s an opportunity for business and civic leaders to come together, and talk about ways to market the unique qualities of the area.

“Our housing costs here are very low, low tax base, it’s kind of a bedroom community from Oxford so we have some Ole Miss affiliation in our county, small-town atmosphere with big town thoughts,” said Sheila Freely, director of C.E.D.A.

The Calhoun Economic Development Association believes that’s one reason to get an accurate count in the upcoming census because federal and state dollars for economic development are on the line.

The Calhoun Economic Development Association will hold its annual banquet Thursday evening.