The new owners of Northpark Mall are investing millions of dollars into interior and exterior renovations in 2018.
The new owners of Northpark Mall are investing millions of dollars into interior and exterior renovations in 2018.
In a turbulent era where state GDP growth has hovered around zero for the last eight years, it’s good to reflect on 2017 and look toward the new year to realize that Madison County is, once again, on the move.

In Ridgeland alone, millions of dollars in projects from car dealerships to restaurants, hotels and retail stores are being invested with over 60 applications this year to the Architectural Review Board for new projects and renovations.

Overall in 2017, Madison County saw a host of new businesses open or start construction. Millions have been invested at a time when people just aren’t investing, so the 2018 Republican tax cuts should bring even more investment here.

Some are apt to call it blind luck or just location. Some would blame Jackson. But we see decades of sound strategy, sheer ingenuity, enterprise and determination all the way back to Northpark mall opening in the early 1980s when County Line Road was not much more than a wooded pig trail.

Northpark really kicked off the growth in south Madison County.

Ridgeland has the lowest millage rate in the county and by keeping taxes low, is able to attract more businesses.

The amount of money in sales tax revenue that will be generated by the likes of Costco, Mercedes Benz of Jackson, the four new hotels planned to open in 2018, the dozens of new restaurants, etc. is going to continue to pave the way for more growth.

Couple that with sound planning and strategic growth and there is no telling what announcements will come in the future.

In Madison, planned growth has been the motto since Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler came on the scene 36 years ago.

One can’t travel up and down Mississippi 463 without seeing construction crews working on something.

Hopefully, we will soon see some traction with the downtown square, something that can’t be rushed, but once complete, will tie the city together like nothing else.

Construction continues on a number of major commercial projects ranging from a new hotel off Mississippi 463 to the Academy Sports/Hobby Lobby project.

 “We are getting more and more calls about future retailers so it’s coming and I think we need to hold on tight,” said Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler.

Madison County and Gluckstadt are also blowing and going.

 Flora and Canton continue to add businesses and sales tax revenues are on the rise in those places as well.

Joey Deason, the new executive director of the Madison County Economic Development Authority, is going to take economic development to an entirely new level, we believe, and that makes us even more excited about 2018.

In Madison County, we are truly blessed with our local leadership, no matter how often we may disagree on this or that. We are truly blessed to be in a community that continues to grow, even when businesses could have just as easily moved to the Lakeland corridor in Rankin County.

But we are surrounded by some of the best businesses, schools, places of worship, parks and neighborhoods on the planet.

Madison County is more than a corridor, it’s a place with a real sense of community that has been nurtured by our leaders, churches, chambers of commerce and other civic organizations.

And to be sure, we’re not kicking Jackson because as Jackson goes, eventually we will go.

Jackson still has some fine historic neighborhoods and institutions that contribute to our quality of life.

There is nothing wrong with living in the suburbs and having a heart for the city of Jackson — still a center for arts, entertainment, culture, politics and business.

 Yet, people continue to invest and believe in Madison County and that is something we can all celebrate as another new year approaches.

While 2017 has been great, all signs point to an even more magnificent 2018 because of our increasingly better quality of life and access to some of the finest medical care in the universe.

As the song, derived from a poem by the Scottish poet Robert Burns penned in 1788, goes:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak' a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Cheers to a happy and even more prosperous 2018!