State of the Union address could be great exposure for Vicksburg

Published 7:32 pm Tuesday, February 5, 2019

When President Donald Trump gave his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, a Vicksburg resident was in attendance as a guest of the president.

Roy James, plant manager of Vicksburg Forest Products on North Washington Street, was invited by the president to sit in the House gallery to listen to his second State of the Union address.

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James served as vice president of operations at Anderson-Tully Lumber, which closed in 2018. Vicksburg Forest Products acquired the Anderson-Tully sawmill through a federal opportunity zone program that uses federal tax dollars to revitalize low-income areas in communities. The acquisition saved 145 jobs.

Vicksburg was designated an opportunity zone under the provisions of the president’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress. Vicksburg Forest Products was the first investor in Mississippi to take advantage of the program.

The opportunity zone program offers tax break incentives that allow investors to protect their investments, and provides an incentive to invest in areas that previously would not have been considered for investments.

U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson toured the mill in December.

“I want to congratulate Roy James for being selected as one of the guests of the president, and I think that’s a high honor for him and his service to our community,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said.

“I think (James’ invitation) is going to put Vicksburg on the map like never before economically,” he said. “Economically, it’s good for us because of the fact that the project they’re talking about is a model project (Vicksburg Lumber), the first project, and it’s going to allow us to be the model for the nation.

“That speaks volumes for that project to be recognized nationally, and we’re ready continue to showcase Vicksburg in a way it’s never been showcased before, and hopefully, it will bring more developers and interest in our city,” Flaggs said.

“We are proud to see that President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have invited as a special guest Mr. Roy James of Vicksburg,” said Pablo Diaz, president and CEO of the Warren County Economic Development Foundation.

James, he said, “Is a living example of the work ethic and strong commitment that the workforce of Mississippi offers to investors when they come to our State.

“We are equally proud that he is there representing Vicksburg Forest Products, one of Vicksburg’s top employers, and one of the first companies in the country to take advantage of the Tax Benefits offered by the opportunity zones created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017,” Diaz said.

Vicksburg, Diaz said, is home to three different opportunity zones, and more than 60 percent of its territory is eligible for the opportunity zones tax benefits.

“We invite investors to give us a call to learn more about how they can take advantage of this special tax benefits in our city and county.”

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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