Natchez is hustling and bustling!
Gotta Love Christmas! And like the old song goes, especially this year, “We need a little Christmas now.”
Another holiday favorite includes the words “hustle and bustle,” and in Natchez right now, we seem to be hustling and bustling all over the place.
Never before have we seen our community so resilient. Many months ago, when first facing what would become a national pandemic of historic proportions, I made the statement that in our more than 300 years, we had overcome every obstacle, and that we would also overcome this. And overcome it we have, through our faith, our unity as one community, and through our sheer resilience.
I am proud of Natchez. And in many ways, 2020 has brought out the best in all of us. Just this week I learned that a beautiful book commemorating the bicentennial celebration of Natchez’s Historic Trinity Episcopal Church has sold several hundred copies, with very few left to sell. All of the proceeds are helping provide a substantial donation to meals for the hungry — this in a time when few thought such a feat was even possible.
Similar stories are being shared all over. In a time where you would think people would be withdrawing to themselves, Natchez is truly the exception. Here, people are reaching out to help and encourage one another. Even the city and county governments are working together as never before, and it can truly be said that Natchez/Adams County have fought the virus and kept our economy strong by working as a team.
And yes, our economy is strong. All around, optimism and hopeful activity have defied the odds. One third of our available real estate is now sold. New businesses are springing up all over town, over 20 at last count. Building permits are being issued at record levels and millions of dollars in new construction is now underway.
To further emphasize the recovery of our economy, and the fact that the Natchez Renewal is happening, just look at the city’s sales tax collections: October 2020, during a pandemic year, we collected a total of $443,283 — almost $40,000 more than October 2019. This is unheard of.
The icing on the “Christmas Cake” has been our Netflix Christmas Makeover. Just a drive down Main Street, past our beautiful Christmas tree, the lights tell the story: Natchez is one of only six cities selected in America for “Home for the Holidays,” a Netflix community program to spread holiday cheer during a time of national challenge.
We were told that our selection was based on the fact that Natchez met the criteria: a community beautiful and thriving, where harmony, unity and peace rein in a world where so many other places have been torn apart by fear and political unrest.
So, yes — I am proud of Natchez. And grateful for the blessings and favor that have been bestowed upon our city.
Not to say, we don’t still face our share of challenges. And truly, there is much to be done in the coming year. But look for good things: more new businesses, more jobs, more improvements to our city and county, and a continuation of the harmony we have seen so beautifully evidenced during this challenging year.
The positive has certainly drowned out the negative. And I for one couldn’t be more grateful. God bless everyone this Christmas.
Dan M. Gibson is mayor of Natchez.