Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Water, Water Everywhere Water

“We are currently building 16 high rises on the Gulf Coast that will sell for $350/sf and yet a house is selling for $150/sf in the same location. What does one have that the other doesn’t?” asked Leland Speed, head of Economic Development for the state of Mississippi.

He answered his own question, “Water! They can look out at water!” And he is right. It is a phenomenon that I’ve been noticing in my travels all around the country. Water, or the lack it, is going to be one of the key economic development issues of the future.

Leland went on to explain to me, “As you look at land values in our more rural counties you can see that it is not being priced upon the value of the timber or the value of the crops that you can grow on it. It has a premium built into it for the recreational value of the land. The market is saying something. We have to figure out how to give the market what it wants.”
I like how he thinks!

“I’ve got a topographical map of the state that we are going thru right now. We are going to find 25 to 50 locations throughout the state where we could put 150 to 400 acre lakes. Wouldn’t that be a great way to provide a boost to some rural counties?”

He’s onto something. Leland is a “big picture” thinker who could revolutionize economic development in any state. He’s doing it today in Mississippi!

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