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Port Commission and Economic Development Partnership detail expansion plans

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Pablo Diaz, president of the Vicksburg-Warren County Economic Development Partnership, outlined many of the plans undertaken with the Warren County Port Commission during Monday's Board of Supervisors meeting. (Photo by Thomas Parker)

The Warren County Port Commission and the Vicksburg-Warren Economic Development Partnership have several expansion projects in the works for Vicksburg and Warren County.

During Monday morning’s Warren County Board of Supervisors work session, Pablo Diaz, president of the Partnership, and Don Brown, president of the Port Commission, detailed the status of several of their ongoing and upcoming capital projects.

Brown extolled the addition of Love’s Truck Stop at Ceres. He added that a truck wash was in the works, but that the COVID-19 crisis had slowed progress on that front.

Diaz reported that the new water tank was almost complete at Ceres and he anticipates taking a walk-through this week. Contractors are putting the finishing touches on several small items before turning it over to the Culkin Water District for use.

Additionally, he gave a status report on repairs to the sewage lagoon maintenance work at Ceres. He explained that all four cells are being reworked, and workers only do repairs on one cell at a time so as not to interrupt sewage services to the industries in the area.

Expansion of Ceres Boulevard would provide access to this 174-acre parcel of land.

He also explained to the board the Commission’s plans to extend Ceres Boulevard between Tyson Foods and United Brands. This would allow access to a 174-acre tract that would be ideal for a larger industrial manufacturer.

Both Brown and Diaz contend that the larger tract is more attractive to development as opposed to the 35-acre to 40-acre tracts available in other areas of the complex.

There are numerous potential funding sources available for the road project, Diaz said, which is estimated to cost approximately $900,000. District 2 Supervisor William Banks questioned Diaz on the need for the road and asked who would be responsible for maintaining it following completion.

The Port Commission has instructed County Engineer Keith O’Keefe with Neel-Schaffer to provide a plan for building the road. The county would have to accept the road before taking over maintenance after completion.

Diaz also reported that the Port Commission is seeking to upgrade the May Warehouse located on Haining Road at the Port of Vicksburg. He stated that the roof needs repair along with improvements to electrical, lighting and sprinkler systems. Once complete, the warehouse could be leased to a new industrial tenant or possibly to Watco, an adjacent tenant, which has rented the facility in the past for additional storage.

Finally, Diaz reported that he has a Tuesday meeting on the potential of a new Mississippi River port in Vicksburg. He expects an announcement within the next few weeks regarding the feasibility study undertaken last year in conjunction with the Mayor’s office.

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Vicksburg entrepreneurs got the basics of business ownership at boot camp

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Kendra Reed and Willie Johnson were among the dozen entrepreneurs attending the Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp. (photos submitted)

Last week participants graduated from the first Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp where 12 individuals received information to start or expand their own businesses.

Myra Harris, who recently started a company making masks, joined the boot camp shortly after her grandchildren informed her of the opportunity.

“They provided all the resources you would need to start your business, and they also made themselves available after class just in case you had any questions,” Harris said.

Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp participants. Top L to R: Marcus Dufour (Vicksburg Warren Partnership), Tim Sanford, Cathy Sanford, Olivia Foshee, Amy Warren, Patricia Anderson, Willie Johnson, Myra Harris, Ginger Donahue (Regions Bank) and Pablo Diaz (Vicksburg Warren Partnership). Bottom L to R: Gwen Green, Kendra Reed, Rob Burnham (Instructor), De’Jonae Curtis and Anthony Curtis. Not pictured William Wooten. (photo courtesy Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce)

Retired businessman Rob Burnham facilitated the class and helped the participants plan out their businesses, assisting with marketing, accounting and distribution. Marcus Dufour and Pablo Diaz from the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce hosted the class, bringing in successful entrepreneurs as speakers including Kevin Roberts who owns Fit Chef Catering in Vicksburg.

“Every speaker gave us the opportunity to ask questions, and it definitely gave me the information I need to open a business, and I would recommend the class 100%,” said participant Willie Johnson.

Johnson was born and raised in Vicksburg. He’s now retired from the military and looking to launch a consulting business, which is what led him to attending the boot camp.

By having capable individuals at the boot camp such as James Harper from the Small Business Development Center at Hinds Community College, the participants were able to learn about available grants and other resources for entrepreneurs.

Starting a business can be stressful for first time entrepreneurs, but the boot camp provided planning advice to the participants, breaking down the information that participants need to launch their businesses.

“In the business process of starting and running a business, owners get very busy running the day-to-day aspects,” said boot camp participant Kendra Reed. “Entrepreneurship Bootcamp gave me the chance to step back and plan through the whole process to prepare my new company to be successful.”

Reed is the owner of Delta Dirt Shirt, and she was proud to be a graduating member of the camp.

Now that the camp has ended, the participants are in competition for a $1,000 seed grant for the best business plan presentation. A winner will be announced Dec. 8.

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Fun Lanes bowling alley has reopened

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(photo by David Day)

Fun Lanes bowling alley in the Uptown Vicksburg mall has reopened.

The bowling alley closed earlier this year after former General Manager Patrick Belden unexpectedly died as a result of a car crash. While the bowling alley has the same owners, they have made some improvements. A statement on the Uptown Vicksburg Facebook page explained:

“Fun Lanes Bowling has made renovations and is now under new management. Fun Lanes wants to let everyone know that they have a renewed goal of being a family-friendly, safe location for the people of Vicksburg and the surrounding area to come out and enjoy the sport of bowling. Fun Lanes at Uptown Vicksburg, come on out and check us out. You will be glad you did.”

(photo by David Day)

The bowling alley had become a hotspot for police activity due to the large crowds that gathered there for late-night, weekend DJ parties. While the parties were a major success and there were almost no problems reported inside the bowling alley, the large crowds outside sometimes became disruptive.

Tony Lemus, Fun Lanes acting general manager (photo by David Day)

“We are committed to a family friendly atmosphere and look forward to providing Vicksburg with a great, fun and family friendly atmosphere” said acting General Manager Tony Lemus.

The hours of operation have changed. Fun Lanes is now open Mondays through Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays from noon to midnight, and Sundays from noon until 9 p.m.

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Wingstop coming to Vicksburg

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A job listing on an internet job site indicates a Wingstop will be coming to Vicksburg soon.

Indeed.com has listing for all positions, including a general manager, for a local store.

Wingstop is a chicken wing restaurant with a wide selection of side items including VooDoo fries. It was started in Garland, Texas, in 1994 and has expanded to over 1,500 restaurants according to the website. The chain has locations worldwide including in the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Panama, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.

The closest Wingstop to Vicksburg is in Clinton. The Starkville location is owned by a franchise called Boss Wings. The staff at that location could not confirm the Vicksburg location and calls to corporate management were not returned.

Jeff Richardson, city planning director, confirmed Wingstop had applied for a building permit earlier this week.

“I believe it was Tuesday,” he said. “It seems like they are going into an existing structure.”

Richardson did not disclose the location but indicated the new Wingstop would be in a strip mall area. There is no indication of the opening date but the job listings would indicate in the next three to five months.

 

 

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