City backs up commitment made to recruit Unified Brands

Published 3:50 pm Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen will provide $200,000 in matching funds to the Mississippi Development Authority for Unified Brands.

The board in October 2018 committed the money, which is the local match for a $2.1 million MDA ACE grant used to influence Unified Brands, a commercial kitchen equipment manufacturer, to locate its plant at the Ceres Industrial Park. Tuesday, it passed a resolution releasing the money to the state.

“We’re putting up the $200,000 for the jobs because we believe that economic development is crucial and important for the sustainable economic future of the county,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said.

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“The bottom line was MDA was putting up $2 million and the county was supposed to put up $200,000 if they wanted to be in the drawing for these jobs,” South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour said. The Warren County Board of Supervisors declined to provide the $200,000, which led to the city agreeing to put up the match.

“The city said, ‘We couldn’t afford not to bring the jobs here,’ so we put up the $200,000 against the $2 million to make sure we got those jobs for the city of Vicksburg. Not only did we get those jobs, but the number of jobs doubled,” he said.

“It’s a $15 million payroll for the city of Vicksburg and Warren County.”

Monsour said Warren County was one of three counties considered by Unified Brands to relocate a plant, adding the Board of Mayor and Aldermen did not want to risk Vicksburg and the county losing the plant’s 425 jobs “because we weren’t going to participate.”

After the board committed the money, it asked the Warren County Board of Supervisors to pay half of the $200,000, but the supervisors again refused.

The Unified Brands plant in the Ceres Industrial Park represents a $9.5 million investment by the company to build a facility that consolidated three of the company’s plants from other areas to Vicksburg.

At the time, the company’s move represented the largest manufacturing job creation project in Warren County in the last 15 years.

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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