Natchez’s renewal is well on its way

Published 8:02 pm Thursday, November 5, 2020

I’m a numbers guy. Words come cheap — results are what count.

So the other day in a meeting with our department heads at city hall, I asked for some key numbers. This is what I got:

150: The number of building permits issued by the City of Natchez since July.

$3.901,689: The amount of new construction/ home and business improvements associated with these building permits.

20: The number of new business permits issued by the City of Natchez since July.

248: The number of new jobs associated with these new business permits.

This is a big deal. It provides proof that, even during a pandemic, the Natchez renewal is happening. Couple this news with the fact that local realtors report an amazing increase in real estate activity and we have reason to get excited.

All over Natchez, houses and buildings are selling that have been on the market for years. In addition, properties are being taken off the market because hope in Natchez is returning. And let’s not forget that Natchez is now the only city in the Deep South to offer an incentive program to attract remote workers looking to relocate — and prospects are already lining up.

Downtown, new gift shops and restaurants have opened, and existing businesses are reporting that their numbers are up.

We are now home to an internationally acclaimed art gallery, Conde Contemporary, relocated to Main Street from Boca Raton, Florida. The Rolling River Bistro is reopening under new ownership. The Pig Out Inn has re-opened as well, again under new ownership. Smoots has re-opened also and more re-openings and new restaurants and businesses are in the works.

Along North Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, new salons and new restaurants have opened, along with a new medical clinic.

Along Seargent S. Prentiss Drive and John R. Junkin Drive, new restaurants, a rehabilitation clinic, a furniture store and an appliance store have also opened. The list even includes various offices, a nail salon, a security company, a bakery, a pharmacy, a shoe repair store and a foot detox center.

As if all of this weren’t enough evidence that our Natchez renewal is underway, consider the fantastic events that have been taking place, all with excellent attendance.

Our Balloon Festival Weekend was a tremendous success. Numerous other events, from large to small, have reported great numbers. The Second Annual Y’all Means All event raised thousands of dollars for mental health and suicide prevention.

And last Saturday, the Longwood Afternoon Festival was enjoyed by many and over 500 drive-by trick-r-treaters were safely served candy and other goodies in front of the Natchez Grand on Broadway.

To add to the good news, just this week, in a meeting with the presidents of the two garden clubs, I was excited to hear that the Fall Grand Pilgrimage came close to meeting pre-pandemic numbers. And all local tourism establishments, from restaurants to beds and breakfasts and guest houses have reported being busy every weekend.

Celebrate, Natchez! While other communities are struggling, we have every reason to be thankful. The Natchez Renewal is alive and well and the best is yet to come.

Dan M. Gibson is Mayor of Natchez.