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USM architectural students pitch Wiggins development ideas

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 6:39 PM CDT
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WIGGINS, Miss. (WLOX) - Community leaders in Wiggins were presented with development proposals on Wednesday from 20 architectural students at the University of Southern Mississippi.

While it’s all hypothetical, city officials said it’s a great showcase for property owners and investors.

“It was impressive what they had accomplished in just a short amount of time and how much they had dug into Wiggins and the history,” Seth Willison with the Stone County Economic Development Chamber Division said.

Students were tasked with transforming one Wiggins area into a residential and commercial space with a public park.

“The students get an opportunity to design three different programs,” said USM Assistant Professor of Architecture Nicholas Wickersham. “The community of Wiggins gets the opportunity to see three different projects.”

City Mayor Darrell Berry said he was impressed by the pitches.

“It’s been slow-growing, and hopefully this will be a boost for our downtown area,” he said.

Senior student Bob Tibbs’s site includes a bakery, a bookshop and residential units.

“It was really fun. It was a very different experience than anything I had had so far,” Tibbs said. “For mine, personally, I wanted to make a spot where everyone in the community could come and just relax, have a nice day, enjoy being outside, but, also, it could serve as a draw for people looking to move to Wiggins.”

The Stone County Economic Development Partnership was awarded a grant from Mississippi Power earlier this year.

South Mississippi leaders reached out to USM back in May for the project, aiming to showcase the opportunities available for small business development in the area.

For the students, it was a real-life lesson.

“I hope they’re really getting a lot out of it. I think the work speaks for itself. I’m really pleased with the models, the drawings, the thought process and really pushing the envelope,” Professor Wickersham said.

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