Hosemann, Presley highlight achievements, plans at CREATE meeting

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Jun. 10—TUPELO — Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley each spoke lavishly about efforts being made to improve the state and region.

They spoke Thursday morning to some 300 attendees at the annual CREATE State of the Region meeting, held at the BancorpSouth Conference Center.

For his part, Presley spoke about what he calls Northeast Mississippi's broadband "revolution."

As of Thursday morning, nearly 25,000 home owners statewide have fiber-to-the-home broadband, with most of those centered in Northeast Mississippi.

"It's been a monumental success in less than a year," he said. "In much the same spirit that Northeast Mississippi led America out of the dark in bringing electricity to rural areas, we're doing the same with fiber-to-the-home broadband service. This time last year we had less than 100 people hooked up to an electric cooperative with broadband service. As of this morning we're at 24,632, and that number is climbing by the day."

Presley said 17 of the 25 electric cooperatives in the state are now offering broadband access, and he hopes to have all of them eventually offer it.

"If this region is to compete, it must be able to connect," he said.

Hosemann, meanwhile, spoke about the achievements of the state legislature and some of the efforts underway for the next session on how to best invest an influx of money related to the pandemic.

"We're blessed, and a bit surprised, that we're running about $900 million over in our budget for the state," he said. "And we've been given about $1.8 billion by the federal government in the rescue plan. In addition, $1.6 billion into education and another $900 million went to the cities and counties. So between all of us, we got approximately $5 billion by the time you add it all up.

"It's a critical decision for us. We don't want this to be one or two years; we want this to one or two generations. So we'll be talking to business leaders on how to spend those funds."

Hosemann was going to Corinth later in the day to meet with city and county leaders and economic development officials on how to partner to exponentially use the funds.

Also at the meeting, the Jack Reed Sr. Northeast Mississippi Community Leadership Award was presented to four men: the late Bobby Martin of Ripley, Sandy Williams of Corinth, Hassell Franklin of Houston and Aubrey Patterson of Tupelo.

dennis.seid@djournal.com

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