Warren County is in need of a building boom

Published 4:28 pm Monday, November 25, 2019

Just about everyone can recite the line from “Field of Dreams” where Kevin Costner’s character is encouraged to build a baseball field in the cornfield by a voice that says “if you build it, they will come.”

Spoil alert: He builds it. They come.

Such is the case with Vicksburg and Warren County when it comes to a housing market — or in some cases — the lack of a housing market.

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When Pablo Diaz and the Vicksburg Warren Chamber of Commerce unveiled its strategic plan in 2018, one of the areas that showed a glaring need was affordable housing in Vicksburg and Warren County.

While there are homes above $250,000 and those below $125,000, there was and continues to be a growing need for those that fall in between those numbers; homes with more than two bedrooms, baths, etc.

These needed homes are not just for those who already call Vicksburg and Warren County home, but for those who were looking to move here, making their decision between Warren County and Hinds County. These are for those attracted to Vicksburg and Warren County by new industries, or opportunities with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

To be more competitive in attracting these individuals and families, the plan showed we need those homes and need them soon.

This sentiment has been shared by others, including business leaders who see the need for the development of more homes and subdivisions and the redevelopment of existing, more mature neighborhoods.

At the time the results of a survey that helped construct the strategic plan were unveiled, there had been just six permits completed for new housing starts; just six. That was disappointing then and remains disappointing.

Developers have complained about unrealistic red tape, while realtors have complained about a lack of inventory.

And this is where government — both at the county and city level — must come together to be part of the solution.

Remember, “if you build, they will come.”

With four new supervisors set to take their seats on the Warren County Board of Supervisors, the time is now to look at every regulation, every line of code and every inch of red tape on the county side to see if there is anything that can be done to spur growth. And, the same should be done with city regulations.

Are there unnecessary regulations? We need to find out. We cannot afford to wait any longer. We cannot afford to lose any more families to Hinds County and elsewhere when they possibly would want to live here.

So the question remains, if we build it will they come? No idea, but if we do not build, then we already know the answer.