HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg's growing population, stable economy and low unemployment rate is helping bring in new retailers and residential properties, according to economic development leaders.
"The economy is doing great," said Chad Newell, president of the Area Development Partnership. "We have such a vibrant regional economy, and it's really driven on the three pillars of our economy of healthcare, education and the military. We have such a strong employment base that it drives additional retail growth. The retail growth continues from downtown to midtown to out west on 98."
Newell said Hattiesburg's population growth is a big factor for companies when they're looking to open new locations,
"It's such a vibrant market," he said. "Folks are glad to be here, and when you have those large economic engines, it drives the other commercial growth. We also have population growth. We have low unemployment rate, and so that really drives the retail sector. Retailers often follow rooftops. They look at population growth trends, and they put new stores in areas that are very vibrant. Hattiesburg fits the bill there."
Those people need places to live, and Newell said that need is spurring residential growth.
"The multi-family housing has really exploded lately," Newell said. "There are several new apartment complexes, and so that really helps feed the population as well. There are a lot of retailers and restaurants that want to be in close proximity of the multi-family housing, so it's really one domino allows the next one to tip over."
Newell said retailers also know shoppers come to Hattiesburg from several counties across the Pine Belt, and he said that also makes the Hub City a good place to do business.
"Our regional economy is connected at the hip. We also have a large retail trade area. Of course, Hattiesburg is the Hub City, and while our metro population is 150,000, our retail trade area expands up to 300,000. So there are shoppers and folks coming in to utilize and enjoy the restaurants and retail. They're coming in from a seven county trade area, and so when you're a hub in South Mississippi, it really generates a lot of economic activity."