There are reasons to be excited and concerned

Published 6:00 am Saturday, November 30, 2019

The time, energy, effort and expense put into developing downtown Vicksburg continues to pay off, and the party Friday evening for the inaugural Christmas in the Park is further evidence of that.

The focus community, business and governmental leaders put on developing downtown for the past few years has made it a viable community within a community. Downtown has grown not for those who choose to do business there, but for those who increasingly want to live there.

Again, it has been an investment that has paid off. And it is an investment that should be duplicated.

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While downtown Vicksburg is a credit to public and private investment, the struggle of large retail centers, like the Outlets of Vicksburg and the Vicksburg Mall, shows what changing buyer habits can do. Both centers have struggled to retain tenants, which has resulted in smaller crowds and fewer shoppers.

As we have said before, these two facilities — these large pieces of real estate must become and remain vibrant. As a city, we cannot afford to have such large facilities, such large stretches of property, become vacant and relics.

Just as city leaders and private investors came to spur growth downtown, a partnership is needed now to restore the Outlets and mall. When it comes to these centers, no idea is too silly, and no idea should be ignored.

Are there tax incentives that could be offered to spur growth? Are there tax districts, like downtown, that could be created to ignite interest?

Vicksburg has a lot to be thankful for and a lot to be excited about, but still, there are areas of concern.

While we have reasons to celebrate when it comes to downtown residential and economic growth, we are not satisfied. Instead, we should be driven to take the recipe that proved successful downtown and use it elsewhere.