By Shane Spees, CDF Chairman 2021-2022
The Community Development Foundation closed its year May 1, and it was my pleasure to have served as Chairman this past program year. It was year two of a global pandemic where we found ourselves dealing with isolation, separation, and COVID-19 surges. But I believe this year will be remembered most by how our community remained unified and stayed the course of community achievement and economic development despite the disruptions.
Your CDF played a significant role in assisting our community with staying the course to ensure we remain one of the best micropolitan areas to live and to work in America. We greatly appreciate all who serve on the CDF board, the leadership committees, and our CDF staff for their unrelenting focus in continuous growth of investments in our community. I believe the past year will be remembered, not for the disruptions, but for the many accomplishments I would like to highlight.
CDF membership grew by 154 new chamber members this year, which is a record over the past decade. In leadership development, over 700 leaders attended the fifth year of the Ignite Leadership Conference. CDF celebrated 68 ribbon cuttings for new businesses.
Fred Pitts, owner of SafeStore of Tupelo, is the CDF 2021-2022 Ambassador of the Year. Fred has been an active member of CDF and served as an ambassador several times throughout the years. Fred is always at ribbon cuttings, is willing to volunteer when needed and encourages local businesses to become a part of CDF. Thank you, Fred!
The Tupelo region was named by Site Selection magazine’s list of most active micropolitan areas for new and expanding facilities for 2021. This is the 12th time since 2005 the Tupelo region has been named to this prestigious list. Tupelo/Lee County had 22 new and expanded industries that included companies such as Carmigo, Sandman Bedding Co., Waste Management, Syntron and General Atomics, to name a few. This totaled to $80.6 million in new capital investment in Lee County, creating 884 new jobs and over $30 million in new payroll for area residents. CDF assisted 46 of our existing businesses in creating over $13 million in new sales growth and/or cost savings.
Looking back on this past year, I am somewhat amazed with and so proud of our community’s progress. We continue to demonstrate resilience and if we can envision it, we can accomplish it!
In closing, I would like to welcome Kim Caron, owner of the Caron Gallery, as incoming board of directors’ chairman. We are fortunate to have Kim assume the chairmanship. As a local business owner and one who has been very engaged within our community and CDF, I know Kim will continue to support economic development and growth that are in the best interest of our community.
Thank you to our CDF members for your ongoing support of the Tupelo/Lee County community and for another outstanding year of economic and community development!
Below, check out CDF’s year in review in our virtual annual meeting report 2021-2022! Thanks to outgoing Chairman Shane Spees of North Mississippi Health Services for his service as board Chairman this past year! We welcome incoming Chairman Kim Caron of The Caron Gallery.