Greenville, a city of 27,000 in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, has suffered from a declining economy for decades and has worked to rebuild its downtown and other areas for the past 15 years.
Residents turned out in droves as people lined streets and highways with signs and balloons to cheer on the vice president as her motorcade traveled from the Mid-Delta Regional Airport to the city.
Harris stopped by to meet Joycee Johnson, owner of Joycee’s Fabric and Sewing Center, and Johnson told her she was busy making dresses for prom season.
“Some of these girls I made dresses for when they were born and then when they were toddlers,” Johnson said. “Now I make their prom dresses. So yeah, I’ve been here for a while.
Johnson told Harris that Paycheck Protection Program loans helped her survive during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I thought I was going to have to shut down, but it all worked out thanks to PPP,” Johnson said.
Harris told Johnson that business leaders who can overcome such hardships are a strength of the nation.
“These companies are reservoirs of ambition just waiting to be tapped,” Harris said. “That’s why we invest in small businesses. That’s why we’re investing in an economy that includes everyone, and that’s why we will continue to work to ensure that every person in our country, wherever they live, has the opportunity to not only succeed, but to flourish. Because when we do, we lift communities like Greenville, and we lift our small business, and we lift America.
U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., Dist. 2, and Greenville Mayor Errick D. Simmons hosted the Vice President and gave her a tour of the city.
“Greenville, Mississippi is unique in that you have the only African American president to visit, and now it has the only African American vice president to visit,” Thompson said in remarks, introducing Harris. “Greenville now has bragging rights because they could have chosen to go to any city in the United States. They both chose to come to Greenville, Mississippi.
Obama, who visited Greenville during his presidential campaign in 2008, was not the only president to visit Greenville. George HW Bush visited Greenville Mid-Delta Airport in 1992 as sitting president, and Bill Clinton visited the Mississippi Delta at Clarksdale in 1999 as sitting president.
While in Greenville, Harris met Bill Bynum, CEO of Hope Credit Union, and the Reverend James Henley.
“We want to make sure we’re working with people like those in the Delta and making sure they’re not restricted by race or gender or where they live,” said Bynum, who started his business there. is over 25 in a small space in the EE Bass building where he was speaking on Friday. “We opened our first office to help small businesses create jobs and give a boost to people in need.
Harris conducted a one-on-one interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid before addressing a crowd of nearly 120 people at the EE Bass Cultural Center in downtown Greenville.
Harris stressed the need for bank support for local businesses. She said Johnson would not have survived the pandemic without the help of Hope Federal Credit Union.
“Johnson went to more traditional banks without any help. But Hope Federal was willing to loan Johnson $10,000 to get back on his feet,” Harris said. during prom season.
“Community lenders often see potential that others often overlook,” Harris said. “Potential like Hope Credit Union seen in Joycee.”
Republican and Democratic business and community leaders from Greenville and throughout the Mississippi Delta turned out to hear Harris speak.
“We are so proud that Ms. Harris has chosen to come to Greenville to visit us and recognize us as a city,” said former Greenville City Councilman and City Leader Kenny Gines. “We have a lot to offer and she enlightens us. We are grateful.”
Thompson praised Biden and Harris for their efforts in less than two years in office.
“In order to understand the heart of America, you have to come to a place like Greenville, Mississippi,” Thompson said. ” They understand. They understand, and that gives you hope for the future.
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Harris ended her Delta tour with a stop at South Street Groceries, where she visited owner Lee Clark, who told Harris she had been in business for 30 years and was glad the vice- president came to town.
“We need more good publicity for Greenville,” Clark said. “You make things happen.”
Harris walked through, met and spoke to all staff individually.
Clark then presented Harris with a take-out dinner, which included Greenville’s famous Koolickle, a pickle soaked in Kool-Aid.
Harris ended her journey much as she began with her motorcade through Greenville with fans lining the streets and cheering as vans and SUVs passed more than five hours after arriving.