Potential tech center to get $2.5M from state

Published 7:54 pm Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Mississippi Hardware building project is expected to get more than $2 million under a plan by the Legislature to borrow $207 million to finance construction, industrial development and other projects.

The legislation, known as Senate Bill 3065, passed out of a conference committee and has been approved by both the House and Senate. The bill is part of a legislative plan to borrow up to $350 million for projects and programs.

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According to an Associated Press article, the Mississippi Hardware building project, called the Mississippi Center for Innovations and Technology in Vicksburg in the bill, is to receive $2.5 million

“That’s the second funding of it,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said. “We got the $2.5 million out of the BP money. There shouldn’t be any reason why we can’t start some construction. From what I understand, we are there. Within the next six months, we should see some renovations. We’re getting ready to start on the parking lot.”

Flaggs called the allocation “great, great news for the city of Vicksburg. I want to commend the Legislature and particularly (Sen.) Briggs Hopson for being able to lead on that, and the leadership of the state.”

In the works

Developers involved with the renovations of the old Mississippi Hardware Building unveiled plans in August 2017 for a $19 million project to convert the former garment factory and hardware building into a multi-floor innovation and tech transfer center to serve the Vicksburg area and the central Mississippi region.

Following a presentation, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen allocated $300,000 to the project and directed city attorney Nancy Thomas to prepare a contract establishing a partnership between the city and developer Tim Cantwell concerning the project.

Besides the $2.5 million in BP funds, the city also received a $545,000 Delta Regional Authority grant to renovate and expand the building’s parking lot.

Other projects

Other money was borrowed in separate bills for Ingalls Shipbuilding, the Mississippi Development Authority, water and sewer improvements, a road in Meridian and a home for medically fragile children in Jackson.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith, a Columbus Republican, says negotiators picked projects to help members who face tough re-election races. Some Democrats complain their districts were neglected.

Universities will get $85 million and community colleges will get $25 million, while state agencies will get $38.6 million.

Locally, the breakdown for universities and community colleges:

• Alcorn State University: $6.3 million

• Alcorn State agriculture division $720,000

• Hinds Community College: $2.8 million

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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