Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District's Planning Department has established a program of work that fosters a thriving, diverse economy for the fifteen-county service area. Recognizing the importance of long-range planning, SMPDD aids its member governments in creating plans to develop their natural and human resources and improve their local economies. By utilizing the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy(CEDS) approach, SMPDD helps communities assess and prioritize their needs, set their goals and implement a plan of action.Additionally, the Planning Department monitors economic trends and disseminates such information to its member counties. With an ever-changing business climate, it is essential for governments to have current data to make sound decisions regarding their communities.
SMPDD also has a thorough knowledge of economic development funding sources. On behalf of its member governments, the District coordinates networking between multiple funding agencies by preparing grant applications and performing project administration. Over the years, SMPDD has secured funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and other state and federal programs. These resources have been used for infrastructure improvements, upgrades in fire protection, construction of new public facilities and other community development projects.
SMPDD also serves as the liaison between local governments and the EDA by identifying development projects which meet their investment policy guidelines and have a high potential for success.
Planning projects have included land use surveys, comprehensive plans, zoning and subdivision regulations, capital improvement programs, housing assistance plans, annexation studies, recreational plans, and downtown and waterfront redevelopment plans. Regional reports have dealt with land development, county government, housing, demographics, industrial sites, international trade, solid waste management, water quality and sand beach planning.