OUR OPINION: Port expansion the right direction for Vicksburg

Published 3:48 pm Thursday, July 14, 2022

The Port of Vicksburg Expansion project has been in the works for nearly four years, with this last year seeing the most visible progress: site selection, property acquisition and the use of eminent domain to obtain some parcels of land.

The thousands of acres required for the port expansion harbor much potential for not only the businesses and industries that will one day locate there, but also the existing landowners and surrounding businesses.

For example, the site is currently located in a flood zone. That designation equates to high property insurance rates, as well as lower land value.

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The planned implementation of a new levee system will protect the land from floods, which in turn will lead to higher property values and lower insurance rates.

The 2019 Port Market Analysis supports not only the chosen site off of U.S. 61 as the best place for the port expansion, but also the notion that the Vicksburg area is losing out on job opportunities for its people due to capacity limits at the Port of Vicksburg on Haining Road.

Since its inception in the 1960s, the Port of Vicksburg has grown to unprecedented levels. Today, it supports more than 4,000 jobs. Imagine the possibilities if there were more jobs available and a larger tax base for our area.

While the benefits and potential for success in the expansion of the Port of Vicksburg are readily apparent, there are also some concerns.

For example, the possibility of losing a valuable community resource like Rainbow Farms is something no one wants to face. The notion that some landowners will lose their source of income if they’re forced to give up their farmland is not ideal.

Will it all be worth it in the long run? Yes, as long as promises to bring new industry, more local jobs and a larger tax base are kept.

In the meantime, the project has gathered much support — the state legislature has provided over $800,000 to the city of Vicksburg and the Warren County Port Commission to develop an environmental analysis of the area. The Mississippi Development Authority, Entergy Mississippi and economic development stakeholders from across the region have demonstrated enthusiasm and support for the project and what it can do for the area.

Existing landowners in the surrounding area say they support the project and the added safety and savings the construction of a new levee will bring. Local officials are sold on the promise of more local jobs and a larger tax base. Companies looking to locate at the new site are being sold on the promise of a state-of-the-art port and industrial complex to rival any other in the area.

We’re all optimistic that the Port of Vicksburg Expansion will live up to the many promises that have been made in order to make it a reality. Now, it’s up to our local leaders to uphold their end of the bargain.