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City seeks Legislature’s approval to give annual supplement to MCITy

If the Legislature gives its approval, the Thad Cochran Mississippi Center for Innovation and Technology will be the beneficiary of an annual $300,000 supplement from the city of Vicksburg.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a resolution on Jan. 19 seeking a local and private, or special, bill authorizing the city to have an agreement with the Vicksburg Warren County Economic Development Foundation for the city to give $300,000 per year to the foundation for the center for 10 years.

City Attorney Nancy Thomas said the local and private bill is necessary because while the city can, by law, contract with another public agency for services, there is no provision that allows the board to enter into a long-term contract to obligate subsequent boards without legislative approval.

The resolution is part of a commitment made by the board in August 2017 to allocate $300,000 and establish a partnership between the city and developer Tim Cantwell concerning the project.

The decision was made after Cantwell and other developers made a presentation to the board about a then-proposed innovation and technology center for the city.

The Economic Development Foundation is now managing the project, which is also known a MCITy, and the project should be completed by December.

“The city’s support for MCITy has been key to the momentum that MCITy has generated in the area and in the state,” said Margaret Gilmer, chair of the Vicksburg Warren Economic Development Foundation. “We are proud that the mayor and aldermen have shown tremendous leadership regarding this project. We will continue to work hard to make this project a reality for our community and for future generations of Vicksburgers.”

When MCITy was first proposed, it was seen 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.

While that goal still exists, MCITy’s reach is expected to be broader to encourage innovation in a variety of ways.

Renovations to the Mississippi Hardware Building began in 2019. A ceremony in February 2020 dedicated the building and renamed the facility in honor of Cochran.

MCITy will serve as home to companies like ERDCWERX, a partner agency of the U.S. Army’s Engineer Research and Development Center, which will support ERDC’s tech transfer goals and programs.

The facility will also house the offices of the Vicksburg Warren Economic Development Partnership, which includes the Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce, the EDF and the Warren County Port Commission, and to other innovation-oriented tenants that will be announced in the future.

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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