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Industrial park awarded $1.5 million grant

By By Buddy Bynum / editor
Oct. 1, 2002
A long-awaited $1.5 million federal grant to provide water and sewer service at the Interstate 20/59 Industrial Park was approved Monday, giving rise to hope that actual construction may begin early next year.
U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., said the grant was approved by the Economic Development Administration. It is another piece of developmental funding at the 600-acre industrial park that is being actively marketed by the East Mississippi Business Development Corp. to automotive suppliers and other companies.
Officials expect the EDA grant will be matched by about $1.6 million in water and sewer funding from the city of Meridian. A $250,000 grant has also been awarded by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove to the town of Marion for temporary water service to the industrial park.
The federal money was committed on the last day of the current fiscal year, meaning that the funds will actually be available in the next couple of months, expediting the project, Pickering said.
The EDA grant came on the heels of Pickering's announcement last week that $5 million is included in pending federal legislation for a key interchange connecting the industrial park with I 20/59 at Hawkins Crossing.
Pickering and other officials hailed the Monday announcement as "good news because it's one more step toward bringing new jobs, additional jobs, to East Mississippi.
U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said the industrial park "will give local and state leaders more leverage in the hunt for jobs."
Also crediting Pickering and U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., with helping to secure the funding, Lott said East Mississippi "is an important area of our state that is poised for growth, so this facility could certainly have very positive implications for Mississippi's economic future."
In August, the EDA, a unit of the U.S. Department of Commerce, had pre-approved the grant application, which was filed jointly by Lauderdale County and the city of Meridian.
EMBDC Chairman Tommy Dulaney said, "This EDA grant is greatly appreciated and will make possible the needed infrastructure improvements to the industrial park.
The formal presentation of the EDA grant is expected to take place on Oct. 14 when Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development David Sampson headlines the EMBDC's annual meeting.
The I 20/59 Industrial Park has been under development since EMBDC acquired the site in 2000.