USM’s Innovation and Commercialization Park gets $3.4M site development grant

Published: Feb. 18, 2022 at 4:50 PM CST
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - $3.4 million is coming from a state grant to Hattiesburg. It’s going into some economic development on Classic Drive in north Hattiesburg off of U.S. Highway 49.

“It’s become quite a norm for Hattiesburg to have these kinds of announcements where you’re announcing jobs or investments or infrastructure,” says Mayor Toby Barker.

The $3.4 million site development grant from the Mississippi Development Authority will help create a location for businesses to come to the Hub City.

“One thing, one challenge for us as a community, we try to bring more economic development, is having shovel-ready sites. Our industrial park is almost full. We have great workforce, but having that real estate ready to go is a challenge for us,” explains Barker.

The land is called “The Garden.” It’s part of USM’s Innovation and Commercialization Park. The area is already home to “The Accelerator,” a technology-focused business incubator that is full of public research ventures and private start-ups.

“The vision was for this entire park to become a place where you could cultivate innovation from mind to market from idea to reality and that dreams have become companies and employing people and just be it a whole area of prosperity, and it’s taken a while for the vision to come to light,” says Barker.

The grant will pay to clear the land, build access roads and extend water and sewer systems for future buildings.

Mississippi State Senator for District 45, Chris Johnson says every year the state allocates money, and he works with others from the Pine Belt to get what they need to keep growing.

“Every year we allocate money to economic development. And so what it comes down to is how much we’re able to appropriate for economic development. And then again, the opportunities that come about to invest that money in economic development. Not every year is the same and so anytime that in Hattiesburg, we can draw that money down to here and use it. It’s a great day for everybody around.”

The funding will also pay to re-pave classic drive. The city will make construction announcements when they have an official timeline.

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