Warren County Port Commission using MDA grant to improve Ceres Site B

Published 4:53 pm Monday, February 28, 2022

A $1.3 million grant from the Mississippi Development Authority will be used for improvements and site work at the Ceres Industrial Complex, according to Vicksburg-Warren Partnership Executive Director and CEO Pablo Diaz.

During its February meeting last Wednesday, the Warren County Port Commission discussed plans for Ceres Site B, currently the largest available tract of land at the industrial park. The grant, totaling $1,368,000, will be used to accomplish a variety of projects, Diaz said.

“We’re a very close stakeholder with the Mississippi Development Authority, and they are a stakeholder of Warren County for sure,” he said. “We are going to provide a small match of about 20 percent, and with that, we’ll be able to accomplish a number of things related to the site.”

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There are plans in place to clear all timber on the property, complete grading work on the land and address drainage issues. The grant money will also be used to tear down existing structures, such as old barns and an out-of-use water tower, and to change the natural flow of water through the site to maximize the amount of available acreage.

Most importantly, Diaz said, the funds will extend water and sewer services across the new Ceres Boulevard and to Site B. All these improvements will make the site more attractive to companies looking to locate in Warren County and allow the Partnership to more effectively compete with other communities for projects.

“The grant will help us remove that and make the site ready to go.┬áThere are two or three companies that are considering the site,” he said. “It’s not so much about how it looks as it is about how much time and money it’s going to take to get the site ready. All of these things we’re fixing or improving or moving, cuts time.

“The basic question that wins or loses a project is, how fast can a company go from spending money to making money?” Diaz added. “So the more things we’ve already done, the fewer things they have to do, and that helps a lot.”

As far as the number of jobs residents can expect the 180-site to produce, Diaz said it’s still up in the air. However, there is the potential for a significant boom in employment in the Vicksburg area, should the right company choose to locate at Ceres.

“Right now, we have projects that we’ve submitted the site for, and that we’re competing for. These are companies that could employ as much as 1,000. It all depends on the company that lands there,” he said. “Most of our sites are going to be between 40 and 50 acres; this one is about 180. So it’s important that we have it as ready as possible to be competitive against other communities.”

Above all else, as work gets underway in the coming months, Diaz urged patience, saying the path from site improvement to production of goods at Ceres Site B is a “marathon, not a sprint.

“The sense of urgency is always there because communities naturally create and lose jobs,” he said. “We’re in the business of accelerating job creation. This is going to help us attract more companies quicker to Ceres.”