Groups to develop economic development strategic plan

Published 9:20 am Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Warren County Port Commission and the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce could soon begin discussions leading toward the development of a strategic plan for economic development.

Pablo Diaz, chamber executive director and port director, said he is in the process of finding a coordinator to work with both organizations, adding he hopes to be able to begin working on the plan in July. He discussed the plans during a port commission meeting Monday afternoon.

“I think the city went through a process like this a couple of years ago, and it was a strategic plan for the city,” Diaz said after the meeting, referring to a series of meetings and public opinion polls on economic development city officials held in 2015.

“In this case, we will concentrate on economic development priorities (for the county).”

He wants to bring the port commission and the chamber together, he said, so they both start the economic exercises and are ready with a plan when the port commission starts its fiscal year in October.

“We would like to work on these in July, August and September and be ready,” he said. “It will be a number of meetings dealing with specific potential initiatives in economic development; they will encompass an entire vision of what direction we want to concentrate yet.”

That direction, Diaz said, will be determined by discussions during the planning stages.

“Those are really going to help us prioritize and define the most effective most important aspects of the type of economic development we want to do.”

He said the plan will include traditional economic development, which includes promoting the Ceres Industrial Park and finding opportunities to expand develop the port, looking at other opportunities that Vicksburg is well situated to do, such are technology-related economic development and education-related economic development programs.

“There are many opportunities that we can take advantage of and I want the community to come together and decide which is the most important one. (So) We don’t go out chasing all kinds of things and and we don’t get anything.”

In other action, Diaz said the developers of a proposed truck stop to be built at the Flowers exit near the Ceres Industrial Park have agreed to the purchase price of $25,000 an acre or $275,000 for the 11-acre tract and negotiations are underway to finalize a contract for the property.

Terra Holdings, LLC, owner of the Sprint Mart stores, with stores in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, wants to build a store at the Flowers exit at Interstate 20 westbound.

The store is expected to have gas pumps, a convenience store and a possible restaurant, and truck scale.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors authorized the sale of the property in May.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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