ERDC commander tells Vicksburg business leaders housing issue here is critical

Published 9:31 pm Friday, June 17, 2016

Vicksburg offers access to the river, the sea, and even the mountains with relative ease. The city offers excellent food, scenic views and enough to keep a history buff entertained for years. It’s a city where it should be easy to attract new talent and retain retirees.

Col. Bryan Green, commander of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, addressed the retention issue Wednesday at a Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

“Millennials can’t afford a lot,” Green said. “We’re missing that moderately priced, newer (living space) for millennials.

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“There’s a little bit of a lack of depth and breadth in the housing market, and that’s what I’m finding to be the largest impact on the decision whether they chose to stay or drift.”

It’s input to be heeded.

Competition for rental housing in the city is fierce, especially if you plan to stay longer than a few months. Even then, new residents pay what Green called “tourist prices.”

For many young professionals just out of college or looking for their first place, few affordable apartment options exist, especially if looking for an apartment community.

Retirees are often looking to downsize from a multi-bedroom home to a garden home or maybe even an apartment with a manageable amount of square footage. Both millennials and retirees alike are often looking for housing to fit a new chapter of their lives. For Vicksburg to be on their radar as a place to call a permanent home, those housing needs must be met.

Perhaps that includes attracting a new apartment complex targeting the retirement community or it may mean looking into a new subdivision of starter homes.

The solution is accessible. As Green said, “Those equations (for growth) are easily changed and in our own control.”

As with most large-scale development issues, change involves collaboration, but those in local positions of leadership are prime for that level of collaboration.

Jane Flowers, the chamber’s executive director, encapsulated the solution by saying,  “It’s going to be all of us working together to make a better Vicksburg.”