Over the past few days I have been asked for my opinion on what some are calling a looming national recession. Certainly, seeing inflation climb above 8% for the first time in many years is worrying. On top of that, paying $5 a gallon at the pump doesn’t bode well for anyone.
Over my life, however, I have learned to look beyond challenges and identify opportunities. And Natchez, we have great opportunities. It’s time to spread the good news!
As we reflect on how we as a community have weathered the covid pandemic, we have every reason to be optimistic. While other cities were closed, we stayed open, responsibly, and began to find ways to market ourselves to those seeking a safe haven. Tourism has skyrocketed, home sales have exploded, and we have welcomed many new residents and businesses to our community. Not even knowing we were being rated, Forbes magazine named Natchez one of the “safest places to visit during a pandemic.” Mississippi Development Authority officials dubbed us “one of the fastest growing economies in Mississippi,” and our growth continues today.
If we’ve done so well during a national Natchez pandemic, we may be doing just fine. And with so many great things happening and still looming on the horizon, these are great times to be in Bluff City.
“America’s Most Affordable City” – In a recession, that’s exactly what a city wants to be known for, and at Natchez, we can claim it! In late 2021, Stanford University economist Rebecca Diamond and UC Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti completed a four-year study of the day-to-day finances of a group of three million Americans nationwide. . Their objective: to identify the most affordable places to live. According to a December 2021 article in NPR’s Planet Money newsletter, Natchez topped the list, followed by Gallup, NM, Summersville, W.Va., Graham, TX and Marquette, MI. Sounds like an opportunity to me.
When you consider gas prices, what better place to live than Natchez where a commute to work can be reached on foot or in less than ten minutes? And considering the inflation currently hitting major cities the hardest, what better haven than Natchez, which is known to be less influenced by national economic trends?
Our reputation as a premier tourist destination presents another very unique opportunity: relative to other premier tourist destinations, Natchez emerges as more affordable every time. And with our convenient location for millions of people just a short ‘drive away’, we’re a better bet for those who still want to travel but don’t want to travel too far. We should spread the good news!
Finally, Natchez now has a great opportunity to attract even more remote workers and new businesses to our economy. We have seen this before during the pandemic when major cities quickly began to lose their luster. The rising cost of living in other parts of America will cause more and more people to look elsewhere for a new place to live and work. We need to make sure Natchez is on that list.
In the weeks ahead, prepare to hear more about Natchez’s ongoing renewal and how we plan to spread the good news about our beautiful, affordable city across America. Because when it comes to economic growth and creating opportunity in tough times, Natchez deserves more.
Dan M. Gibson is mayor of Natchez.