Mighty Mississippi: River has tremendous untapped economic potential

Published 12:23 pm Friday, July 17, 2015

We have written often about the immense economic and social impact the river has on our community. As it has flowed and shifted, it has shaped our city in ways we cannot possibly calculate.

If it were not for the river, mercantile trade along the riverbank would not have helped develop our economy. Vicksburg faced this dilemma after the Mighty Mississippi changed course in the late 1800s leaving the city without a waterfront and leading to the construction of the Yazoo Diversion Canal.

If not for the river, Vicksburg’s importance to the Confederacy and it’s capture by the Union, would not have been of such historic significance.

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If not for the river, casinos would have found a home on some other riverbank.

If not for the river, majestic riverboats would not have Vicksburg as a must-see destination on their luxury cruises.

For all the importance the river played in our past, it is important we continue to find ways to maximize what it can mean to our future.

Development along the riverfront is a must for additional economic growth for not only those on or near the river and canal, but to all of us.

As Viking River Cruises, a major cruise line company, prepares for the start of cruise operations on the Mississippi and stops in Vicksburg, our city and economic leaders should find ways to spur growth, development and enhancements around the river. It is important we ensure those thousands of visitors who disembark from their riverboats each year continue to be amazed at what they find in Vicksburg.

Continued talk of a casino development behind the Portofino Hotel is encouraging, but there is property — both public and private — that stretches along the waterfront that needs work, needs a loving touch. Even if development is not planned, a clean up should be.

We have so much more potential to pull from the river; it’s just a matter of coming together and making it happen.