HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Downtown Hattiesburg was quiet Monday since there weren’t any planned Labor Day events and some local businesses took the day off.
But Downtown Hattiesburg Association executive director Andrea Saffle says the area has grown a lot in the past five years.
“The health and well-being and vitality of your downtown core, no matter what city you’re in, really reflects the health and well-being of the city as a whole and how it’s doing,” Saffle said.
She says that’s why the Downtown Hattiesburg Association works so hard to develop and improve downtown businesses.
“Downtown Hattiesburg Association really is to encourage and promote the economic development and growth of the downtown area, the business district particularly” Saffle said.
Downtown Hattiesburg is part of the Mississippi Main Street Association that helps preserve and develop Mississippi’s downtowns.
Mississippi Main Street released a five-year economic impact study detailing the new jobs, businesses, and investments downtowns across the state gained. Mississippi Main Street Association’s efforts created more than 5,000 jobs across the state between 2015 and 2019.
Here in Hattiesburg, 33 new businesses opened downtown, creating 207 new jobs over the past five years.
“We’ve had four new businesses that have opened just in 2020,” Saffle said. “So when you think about COVID and the effect that all of that has had across the nation, we’ve had four businesses that have opened this year, so that’s exciting in of itself.”
Saffle says the investment in downtown also gives a good idea of how much a bustling area can impact the city.
“We’ve seen $17.3 million of private investment in the downtown district and $32.6 million in public investment in the downtown district,” she said.
In addition, 106 new residential units were added to downtown in the past five years, and more are likely coming soon. Saffle says a few big buildings downtown recently sold and she’s excited to see what will come to Hattiesburg next.
“It’s really, really exciting. We’re seeing a lot of momentum,” Saffle said.
The Downtown Hattiesburg Association is also planning a “Get Out and Get Downtown” campaign with events at local businesses in the next few months to encourage support of local businesses in the fourth quarter of this year.
These events will be ticketed and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, all in an effort to keep locally owned small businesses thriving in downtown Hattiesburg.