Business Park Property Is Enhanced at Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport
Courtesy of Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport
The Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport is using a regional approach to enhancing business park property. The piece of property is about 150 acres east of the airport’s perimeter fence. The property is adjacent to Interstate 59 with connections to US 84, US 49 and I-10 and I-20 farther north and south.
“This property has been looked at several times by U.S. companies seeking sites for their large distribution centers,” said Tom Heanue, Executive Director. “But we have always fallen short early in the selection process.”
With the opportunity to land a large distribution center that would provide 400 well-paying jobs for Mississippians, the airport is using a regional (team) approach to better develop the site.
The airport first removed all the trees from the site. This helped offset the cost of doing Phase I studies, i.e., wetlands, endangered species, etc. Then the airport put in a bid to supply fill dirt for the Evelyn Gandy Parkway Interstate Exchange expansion. While still negotiating final dirt sale, the airport, in teamwork with the Jones County EDA and the Area Development Partnership, applied for a Mississippi Development Authority Grant for site development. Thanks to Jones and Forrest County Supervisors, who each supplied $75,000 to match the grant, and to Cooperative Energy’s donating $100,000, the total MDA Grant awarded for improvements is $500,000. Finally, while both of these were in play, the airport reached out to the Mississippi Army National Guard to provide needed work on the site that will occur after the New Year.
What’s the plan?
“When we are done, we hope to have a level grassy spot to show a business prospect, with an expanded road to the site and jobs instead of pine trees,” said Heanue. “For forty years that property has grown pine trees – now it’s time to grow jobs.”