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Bids opened for next phase of Mississippi Center for Innovation and Technology construction

Two construction companies have submitted bids for the phase two construction of the Mississippi Center for Innovation and Technology, which will be located in the former Mississippi Hardware Building, at 1622 Washington St.

The $3.6 million bid from Shane Ormon Construction Management in Clinton and the $3.35 million bid of Benchmark Construction Corp. of Jackson were opened at Thursday’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and taken under advisement. No date was given when a bid would be awarded.

Pablo Diaz, president and CEO of the Vicksburg Warren Economic Development Partnership, said the work is funded with $2.5 million in 2019 state general obligation bond money.

“Phase 1 pretty much took care of the exterior of the building; phase 2 is going to entail all the mechanical work as well as the preparation of the floors, wiring, elevator, staircases and security,” he said. “The next phases are going to finish out the building.”

The Mississippi Center for Innovation and Technology was introduced in 2017 as a project to promote the development of new technology for different markets, technology transfer and entrepreneurship by providing a source to help people start their own companies and compete for contracts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center.

Technology transfer involves applying the research to produce an actual product and manufacturing it. In other words, taking the product from research to commercialization.

The idea for the center came from the office of former U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s office in Washington, D.C., as a way to capitalize on the assets and opportunities available to the state because of the presence of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg.

The building is owned by 1622 Washington St. LLC, a consortium of several people led by the Vicksburg-Warren Economic Development Foundation. The city of Vicksburg has pledged $300,000 a year for 10 years as part of their partnership.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen in December 2017 authorized Mayor George Flaggs Jr. to sign an agreement for a $545,000 Delta Regional Authority grant to expand the building’s parking lot and approved an agreement with 1622 Washington St. LLC, the building’s owner, to provide the grant’s 20 percent match.

The building was originally constructed in 1936 for the M. Fine and Sons Mfg. garment factory. The Mississippi Hardware Building closed in October 2013.

Developers involved with the building’s renovation unveiled plans in August 2017 for a $19 million project to convert the building into an innovation and tech center.

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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