Hosemann shares updates, vision for Vicksburg projects

Published 2:31 pm Saturday, December 9, 2023

An “unrivaled” visitors and convention center and a much-needed infrastructure improvement are in store for Vicksburg, said Mississippi Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann.

Speaking to members of the Vicksburg Rotary Club this week, Hosemann shared updates on projects that are key concerns for Warren County and Vicksburg residents, including a much-anticipated new visitors center.

“It will be a convention center and an exhibit center and a historical center that will be unrivaled,” Hosemann said, describing the vision for a comprehensive center inspired by a similar space in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

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Sharing what he saw during a trip to the Gettysburg center, Hosemann talked about the opportunity to build a center that incorporates convention and exhibit spaces as well as cultural and historical exhibits and information, operating in a public-private partnership.

“This is an opportunity for Vicksburg, for Warren County and for those of us who cherish this place to have an outstanding events center,” he said. “We think that it is of significant interest and would really meld well with our blues trail and other assets we have.”

Initial costs have been projected at $90 million. “We’re only going to build this once, and want it to be something our grandchildren will be proud of,” Hosemann said.

The first step in the project is contracting an architect to develop a plan, and Hosemann said funds have been allocated for that.

“That’s going to happen,” he added. “The reason is, it’s good for the state. It’s an excellent opportunity for us to have a first-class place. It melds well with people stopping on river, melds well with our history, and is a marker to show how much progress we have made.”

Another important project receiving state funding is infrastructure improvements to the Flowers Exit on I-20.

“When I started, we were helter-skelter about picking (infrastructure) projects … we really didn’t have a plan that we were following,” he said. “I asked  the board at the highway commission to come up with series of places that really need to be done. One that has risen to top of list is Flowers exit.”

Improvements in access at that exit can be made for $16 million to $20 million, a cost Hosemann said is “doable.” Much-needed work on other I-20 exits through Vicksburg will come later. “Those others will take hundreds of millions of dollars,” Hosemann said.

Hosemann also praised Sen. Briggs Hopson III, R-Vicksburg, who chairs the Appropriations Committee for his work. “During the time Briggs has been in charge of Appropriations …We will have paid off 24 percent of the state’s debt almost $1 billion …

“The fact that we are able to take our state and do that – pay down state’s debt – have the chance to pay our teachers more, build our roads more – has never been done before.”

Hosemann said specific steps – such as not borrowing money to fund massive economic development projects – and smart decisions have contributed to the state’s improving financial stability. “We’ve cut taxes $500 million; paid off $1 billion of the state’s debt; haven’t borrowed money; are funding education, from 5 or 6 years old all the way to 20; and still have money in bank.”

Terri Cowart Frazier contributed to this report.