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Grant will help make Ceres more competitive

The Warren County Port Commission has been approved for a $236,810 Mississippi Development Authority grant for needed due diligence aimed at making sits at the Ceres Industrial Complex more competitive for economic development projects. 

The annual grants are provided by the Mississippi Development Authority as part of the Premier Site Development and the Ready Site programs supporting communities in their efforts to attract more jobs and investments to Mississippi.

According to a letter to the Port Commission from Glenn McCullough, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, the work proposed by the commission “demonstrates the port’s commitment to developing qualified available sites that meet the needs of prospective businesses in the current business environment.

“With this grant we are pleased to support the important work Vicksburg is doing to further prepare these sites for industrial development, enhancing the competitiveness of the sites, the community, and the state of Mississippi, McCullough said.

Pablo Diaz, president and CEO of the Vicksburg-Warren Economic Development Partnership, said the work involves three sites at Ceres, two 50-acre sites and a 170-acre site.

One of the 50-acre sites includes the park’s estimated $1 million 64,000-square-foot spec, or speculation, building that was built in 1995 and never occupied.

“We are seeking what is called an Entergy Certified Site certification,” Diaz said. “The grant was written to help us do all the work to gain the certification.

“We fully expect when we’re done with the work, Entergy is going to certify our sites, and that would make us not only more competitive for projects, but also Entergy will push those sites in front of their prospects more than they would any other site.”

He said the due diligence involves environmental assessments, archeological assessments, soil borings, topographic maps and wetlands delineations.

He said the environmental assessments are already being performed by Stantec, the county’s consulting engineers.

“Another thing we are going to do as part of the grant is design work for extending a road onto the big site, which is located behind Tyson Foods.” Diaz said, adding an engineer has not been hired to design the road.

“We are thankful to our state partners for making this important grant available to us,” Diaz said. We are committed to winning and creating jobs for Warren County and having a competitive product to offer investors is key to continuing to realize that goal for our community.”

“We have had a superb couple of years in terms of economic development and we are proud that the Partnership’s efforts have generated the announcement, so far, of over 650 new jobs and over $80 million in direct investments,” said Margaret Gilmer, Warren County Port Commission chairman.

“There is more work to do and more opportunities to realize for our community and that is why this work and this grant are so important. We have to make our sites are the most competitive they can be in order to have a better chance at winning more projects.”

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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