Entergy says Ceres ready for more development|[04/17/07]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ceres Research and Industrial Interplex was certified by Entergy Mississippi as ready for more economic development, company officials announced Monday.

The 1,200-acre site at Flowers passed a battery of criteria established by Entergy in a part a &#8220Certified Site” program begun a year ago by the utility, one that grades industrial sites based on land and property assessments, active infrastructure improvements and development plants.

&#8220It’s a sign of a structured, formalized organization,” said John Turner, director of economic development for Entergy Mississippi.

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Entergy has long backed the site, first developed with roads, water, power and sewer utilities with a federal grant after being purchased by the Warren County Port Commission in 1986. Included in marketing the site has been an Entergy-backed idea to build a &#8220spec” facility, which remains available for purchase by an incoming industry.

In the past year, the industrial park has seen expansion by a major tenant, Yorozu, and the departure of another, CalsonicKansei. Both are suppliers to Nissan near Canton.

At the announcement during Monday’s meeting of Warren County port commissioners, executive director and former Entergy executive Jim Pilgrim remained hopeful that the designation, coupled with efforts through Mississippi Development Authority to enhance Ceres’ viability will bring more industries into the area.

&#8220This partnership will pay dividends for us,” Pilgrim said.

In other commission business, officials with the Mississippi Department of Transportation said two options are emerging during an environmental review in progress for a road connecting U.S. 61 North and the Port of Vicksburg.

One route begins about five miles north of River Region Medical Center, cutting through hills and bluffs and ending near the intersection of North Washington Street and Sherman Avenue.

Another would widen North Washington between 61 and the port, an option laden with challenges including purchasing rights-of-way now held by residents of Kings and excavating historic markers.

The idea for the road is to create easier access for east-west truck traffic to the port in north Vicksburg. If 18-wheelers can’t travel city streets, their only option is a loop north on U.S. 61 to Blakely before turning back south toward the port.

MDOT Central District engineer Kevin McGee and Jocelyn Pritchett of ABMB Engineers Inc. briefed about a dozen operators of industries at the port on the plans, one scheduled for a presentation for public view and comment at Kings Community Center May 1.

”The final location of the route has not been made,” McGee emphasized, adding a study of the projected traffic to and from the port on North Washington will determine the fate of the widening option.

Though McGee declined to speculate on the cost Monday, Pilgrim has estimated cost of building the road at $17 million and would likely take a state-county funding mix to realize.