Aldermen seek grant funding for Zoa Street drainage

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 17, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Grants to improve infrastructure and help boost the local economy took center stage at the board of aldermen&8217;s Tuesday meeting.

Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis has long pushed for improvements to drainage and other infrastructure in the Zoa Street area.

&8220;I urge the board to go forward with this proposal,&8221; she said.

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Specifically, the board voted to hire Crown Engineering and Sunbelt Research and Development the engineering and administrative contracts, respectively, for a project the city plans to undertake.

Specifically, the city plans to apply this week for a Community Development Block Grant for the Zoa Street project.

Both companies are minority-owned.

Later in the meeting, both Gray and Alderman Theodore &8220;Bubber&8221; West said the city needs to reactivate its minority participation program, through which it lets minority-owned companies know about all upcoming city projects.

Also during Tuesday&8217;s meeting, aldermen voted to use $30,000 in money from an $89,000 economic development grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to digitally map land parcels throughout the city.

That way, industrial prospects could more quickly identify possible business sites, City Engineer David Gardner said.

Aldermen also voted to use the rest of the money to relocate a sewer line running through the middle of the Belwood industrial property, helping ready it for industrial prospects.

Specifically, Colorado-based company Rentech has said it plans to build a fuel manufacturing plant at the Belwood site &8212; if it gets the government incentives to do so.

Aldermen also approved the Economic Development Authority&8217;s application for a more than $180,000 grant to build an access road to land behind Energy Drilling&8217;s Liberty Road property.

Energy Drilling wants to expand its current location, adding 25 jobs and investing $4.5 million but needs the access road to make it happen, Gardner said.

The city would have match the grant by 50 percent, but that match will be covered by in-kind services, Gardner said.