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Prospective aquaculture farm discussed for area

 

NATCHEZ — A prospective aquaculture farm could generate a boost in jobs and economic growth in the Miss-Lou community by producing and distributing high-value ocean fish in Natchez.

Plans for a facility that would include an integrated fish hatchery, grow out and distribution site for seafood markets were recently discussed during an Economic Development Council meeting with Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell and several business leaders in Natchez and Adams County.

Chandler Russ, the Executive Director of Natchez Inc., said he agreed to not disclose the owner’s identity and location for the facility until an official announcement can be made.

“We’re still in high-level discussions and negotiations with this client,” Russ said, “and due to a non-disclosure agreement we cannot comment on an ongoing economic development prospect.”

Wesley Harris, a consultant with an unnamed industrial client out of Dallas, Texas, said they were in search of an ideal starting location for one of 12 different facilities across the country, which would act as a “super site” for the industry.

The facility, which would produce 50 million pounds of high-value ocean fish is projected to have a capital investment well in excess of $100 million, Russ said. At full production it could mean several hundred jobs.

Both Russ and Harris said the outlook of the owner starting the project in Natchez is promising.

“As close as we are to the Gulf of Mexico, 95 percent of the fish we consume come from other sources outside of the United States,” Harris said. “There’s a huge market in this country for high-value ocean species. The gentleman I’ve been working with asked me four years ago as his consultant to find an ideal place for this supercenter. I’ve been all over the country … and this is probably the number one location for that site.

“The opportunities in this field are almost unlimited,” Harris said. “It pulls in the involvement of universities like Alcorn State, Southern Miss and Mississippi State because of the type technologies involved. It’s biological in nature. There’s a tremendous opportunity here. … Natchez has everything that we’re looking for in a first site location for this super site.”

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