Monday, March 26, 2007

...and the race is on

This blog will center upon the growth explosion for DeSoto County in Mississippi. From the article, which appeared in the Commercial Appeal's Monday, March 26th paper, DeSoto County ranks in the top three among the fastest growing counties of the Mid-South states (Tennessee, Mississippi, & Arkansas). According to the article, the growth is fueled by people moving out of Memphis and Shelby County and people moving into the the "Memphis" area and choosing it as the place to live. This revelation is interesting in the fact that the ex-Memphians are moving to the outer fringes of the metropolitan area only to come back into town to utilize its amenities. The DeSoto Civic Center can only host so many attractions, thus leaving Memphis as the central locale for entertainment as from cruising the Dairy Queens and holding impromptu car conventions at the AutoZone parking lot. But why are these people flooding Mississippi? Urban growth has, in my opinion, had a negative effect on the city of Memphis and a positive influence for counties such as DeSoto County in Mississippi and Fayette County in Tennessee. Once viwed as prestine farmland, now is only used as a cash cow. The developers don't want a growth plan because it simply stymies their earning potentials with converting once low demanded land to land that will generate a sizeable profit. It is just a simple numbers game to them. How many equals how much (money that is). Just simply look at the Tunica Casino growth area and how cotton fields turned to gold. The number one source for this hasty exodus from the city of Memphis, in my opinion, lies at the root of the problem; CRIME! If people feel safe in their homes or neighborhoods, they tend to want to stay there; not pack up and head to Mississippi. If Memphis officials could really get a hold on the crime issues at hand, Memphis would benefit in the sense that smart growth would be checked. That is, there wouldn't be such a demand for undeveloped land to be developed at the pace that it is currently reaching. In just under seven years, DeSoto County has moved from 5th place in Mississppi's 82 county population, to the number 3 ranking. Now that's smart growth. And you don't hear DeSoto county officials complaining about the economic boom to their once small area. In fact, Jim McDougal, DeSoto County planning director, says he sees no end to the growth. The housing slump that has been seen in other areas of the country have not affected DeSoto. With the notion of cheaper housing costs and the idea of moving to a crime free area, no wonder DeSoto County ranks 3rd on the list. Come on Memphis, you stand to lose more that just the race..... this is my opinion, I could be wrong.


acobbs said...

This is an interesting commentary and serves as a great example. Due to lower property taxes, the "perception of lower crime," better schools,....people are moving to Desoto County in droves. However, how long will the area be able to sustain this type of development? It will be interesting to watch the area over the next five to ten years. In my opinion, the area is well on its way down the path toward fiscal stress as a result of growth.

Rachael said...

One point that isn't mentioned in your post is the increase in crime in DeSoto County. Another recent article in the March 21 edition of the Commercial Appeal focused on the rise in crime in Olive Branch. Auto burglaries, or theft from vehicles, rose from 192 reported incidents in 2005 to 304 in 2006, a 58.3 percent increase. This may not seem like much, but for a town of 30,000 people, it may be a precursor for worse crimes as growth continues. In the article, Leann Farr, an Olive Branch patrol officer, states “People still feel like Olive Branch is a small town. No crime, when in reality we're becoming one of the largest growing counties, and along with that comes crime.”