PORT EXPANSION UPDATE: Warren County Port Commission announces control of needed land parcels

Published 11:54 am Thursday, February 9, 2023

The Warren County Port Commission announced Thursday that Warren County now has control of all the parcels needed for the Port  Expansion Project south of Interstate I-20.

Warren County and the city of Vicksburg worked along with the Port Commission to acquire the property over the past year,  eventually securing control of more than 1,700 acres along the River. The inception of the project dates back to the Fall of 2018 when the State legislature allocated funds to the city of Vicksburg to do any necessary due diligence to explore the feasibility of expanding the port capabilities in the region. 

The city then established a Port Expansion Committee to drive the project forward. Committee members included Dr. Jeffery Holland, Austin Golding, Pablo Diaz, Patrick  Smith and Trey Hardaway. With the support of the committee, the city then commissioned a market analysis from a nationally renowned maritime consulting firm that concluded there was growing demand for port space in the Mississippi River and recommended the community move forward with the project.

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A site benchmarking analysis was also conducted to determine the most optimal location for the project along the Mississippi River in Warren County. The site analysis recommended that the project be located south of I-20 along Hwy 61 South, near major infrastructure facilities such as power, gas, water and sewer systems. This strategic placement would facilitate exponential growth in shipping traffic and attract new business opportunities for the area. Also important to the location decision was the robust multimodal infrastructure present including access to the Mississippi River, direct access to a four-lane highway (U.S. 61 South), close access to Interstate 20 and access to Class I rail. 

The assembly of the land for the project is an important precursor to the next phases in the project which include finalizing design and permitting, financing and construction. The Warren County Port Commission, in coordination with the city of Vicksburg, Warren County, Entergy Mississippi, the MDA and other state economic development allies are working on the other phases of the project to bring it to fruition as expeditiously as possible. 

Mayor George Flaggs stated, “We cannot understate the importance of this project to the future of Vicksburg. This project will secure economic development opportunities for the region for the next five decades and will do wonders to reduce poverty and increase economic well-being across West Central Mississippi. Additionally, this is not only a project of local importance but of Statewide importance, as evidenced by the strong support for the project already demonstrated by the State legislature, Governor Reeves, as well as Lt. Governor Hoseman and Senator Briggs  Hopson. Mississippi and Vicksburg need this project and the future of our residents is  what is at stake.” 

The city and county came together and matched dollar to dollar to accomplish the land assembly.

“Economic development is crucial to the vitality of Warren County and of our state overall,” said Warren County Board of Supervisors President Kelle Barfield. “Our vision for growth can only be achieved with bold and collaborative actions such as investment in land that has held tremendous potential for industrial development for years. I’m grateful to see our partnerships extend beyond our local area to state leaders through the support we have received from Governor Tate Reeves and the Mississippi  Development Authority.”

Don Brown, Chairman of the Warren County Port Commission, said, “We have been working on gaining control of the needed properties for a while and we are excited to finally be there. We still have a couple of processes to finish but being able to know everything is under control by Warren County and the Port Commission is a huge step forward. We are thankful for the leadership of the city of Vicksburg and the Warren  County Board of Supervisors on this land assembly project. They came together and acted decisively and in a unified manner for the betterment of both the city and county. The  value provided by their ability to work together can not be understated.” 

In 2012, a statewide port study commissioned by MDOT concluded that Mississippi was  “missing the boat” because there was no room left to attract employers to the ports along the state waterways. The expansion of Port Infrastructure in Vicksburg will be the first step taken to alleviate such deficiency for the State along the Mississippi River.