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Miss-Lou to see projects come to fruition

Illustration by Ben Hillyer
Illustration by Ben Hillyer

Local economic development leaders say 2014 will mean major construction for industry projects that have been on the horizon for the past few years.

Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said industries that made announcements in 2012 and 2013 will be under construction, such as Genesis, Enersteel and Magnolia Frac Sand.

“You’ll definitely see a lot of our projects from the end of 2012 and 2013, and some of those announcements made before that, continue to be in construction mode,” Russ said.

Von Drehle, which took over the Mississippi River Pulp facility in January 2013, began some of its major activity at its site toward the end of 2013, Russ said.

The industry construction activity that will happen throughout 2014 will be beneficial for more than just those companies, Russ said.

“(It) is good news both for the existing contractor base and the construction jobs that will be created off those (projects) for an extended period of time,” he said. “(The year) 2014 is definitely going to have robust construction period throughout the entire year.

“These are big industries, so we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Natchez Inc. also plans to begin promoting the former International Paper Co. site for development.

“We plan to move that property from a greenfield to development,” Russ said. “You’ll see us, in conjunction with our partners, really put our marketing hats on about how best to position that property for development.”

An industry Russ said he believes has the biggest potential for the region if it continues to materialize is the drilling of Tuscaloosa Marine Shale

Russ said it is estimated Goodrich, EOG, Sanchez, Halcón and other major players in TMS will invest a minimum of $800 million in 2013.

“That covers about four counties and four parishes in and around Adams County,” he said. “We’re definitely excited about that and continue to monitor and are doing all we can to continue to make sure that play becomes a viable commercial oil play for the area.”

Natchez Inc. will also continue its entrepreneurial training efforts in 2014.

“We’re going to stay after it and keep our nose to the grindstone and try to have a good year,” Russ said. “I think it’s going to be a great, great year for the area and the region.”

Concordia Parish Industrial and Economic Development Executive Director Heather Malone said 2014 will bring construction for Vidalia’s $20 million port.

“I think that’s going to trigger a lot of folks we’re talking to to announce their plans of development,” she said.

Malone said she believes Vidalia’s broadband infrastructure project will also be beneficial to the business community.

“I think having that infrastructure available will spur some small business development,” she said.

Malone said she has met with several potential developers interested in retail, commercial, industrial and hotel prospects in Concordia Parish.

The opening of the recreation complex in Vidalia in 2013 will also help make 2014 a thriving year, Malone said.

“That’s going to stir a lot of retail and commercial interest in our area and help people to see that type of development will be prosperous in our area,” she said.

“I think we’re going to have a really good year.”