The Mississippi State Department of Health, in partnership with stakeholders from the city of Natchez and Adams County, conducted an HIA to inform decisions about economic development, historic preservation, and revitalization. The HIA examined the Adams County Civil Rights Project (ACCRP)—one of several initiatives to increase the profile of African American heritage in Natchez and Adams County—in the context of an ongoing conversation about tourism, economic development, historic preservation, and revitalization and aims to support community stakeholders in advancing health as the related projects move forward. The ACCRP is led by the Historic Natchez Foundation and overlaps with elements of the city’s Downtown Master Plan and other community initiatives.
Through community engagement and analysis of health-related factors, the HIA examined how planning efforts can result in changes to health outcomes such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and injury by influencing residents’ activity levels, sense of safety, and social interactions. Local stakeholders such as African American business owners, the faith community, the Natchez Board of Aldermen, and other community leaders will serve on committees to guide the HIA work.
The HIA found that a comprehensive, cross-sector approach involving community development, economic diversity, and entrepreneurship support is more likely to benefit health than tourism alone. Further, the HIA determined that opportunities to directly engage with local civil rights history, such as field trips to key sites, can improve young people’s educational attainment and their participation in community decision-making.
The report recommended that the county support local civil rights history education in schools and faith-based or civic youth groups; develop an interactive People’s Civil Rights Trail, supplementing the existing interpretive panels along walking trails with coordinated exhibits, guidebooks, and digital connectivity that will allow residents to recount their own civil rights experiences; and conduct research on historical inequities at the neighborhood level to increase awareness of contemporary health disparities.
The HIA increased practitioners’, advisers’, and stakeholders’ understanding of health equity and its effects and influences in multiple sectors. Practitioners especially learned the importance of considering the distribution of policy effects within a population. The Mississippi State Department of Health is coordinating a plan to monitor the health effects of decisions.
This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.