Ribbon cutting signals new phase of project to transform sparsely populated rural region into economic powerhouse
Posted: October 25, 2021 at 10:47 a.m. EDT|Update: 34 minutes ago
MEADVILLE, Miss., 25 October 2021 / PRNewswire / – A public-private consortium celebrated the acquisition of 150 acres of land in the scenic Homochitto National Forest near Lake Okhissa in the southwest Mississippi with a ribbon cut on Friday October 22 which will pave the way for the construction of a 200-room pavilion, a 1,000-person conference center and related amenities.
“I am very excited to reach this point in achieving the vision (Scenic Rivers) …” US Senator Cindy hyde smith
The ribbon cutting marks the start of the next phase of efforts by the Scenic Rivers Development Alliance, a coalition of local governments in five counties, to develop the property into a destination location for outdoor recreation enthusiasts, clubs, businesses and regional organizations that focus on tourism, economic development and education.
The land purchase was finalized earlier this year after Congress passed the farm bill. Jones Lang LaSalle and HVS Asset Management provide property, hotel / resort and asset management services. Supporters are also partnering with Prism Hotels to develop a world-class hotel, resort and conference center on the site. Construction is expected to start at the end of next year and the opening is scheduled for 2025.
“I am very excited to reach this point in realizing the vision of utilizing the natural beauty of Lake Okhissa and the southwest Mississippi to create jobs, develop tourism and strengthen our economic base, ”said the US senator Cindy hyde smith. The Mississippi The Republican inserted a language in the farm bill to authorize the acquisition. “There is still a lot of work to be done on this project, but there is no lack of enthusiasm to bring it to fruition. I look forward to being a part of this process.”
Representatives of ARDS, educators, business groups and representatives of local, state and federal governments attended the inauguration and welcomed plans to launch the project, which is expected to boost tourism, employment, education and economic development efforts in the region.
“I am proud to have worked with the many great people who saw the importance of the Lake Okhissa project and the impact of economic development it will have on the southwest. Mississippi. I look forward to the big things in store at Lake Okhissa, ”said third district congressman Michael Guest, R-Madison.
“This property is the platform that will allow the southwest Mississippi to tell a rich history of outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing, golfing, the use of rivers and streams by outdoor enthusiasts, visitors and the general population of our state, ”said Joseph parker, executive director of SRDA, an independent state entity established several years ago as a branch of the Pike County Economic Development District.
Parker said that with the completion of the purchase of the land, which relied on various public and private sources, supporters can now begin construction of the project, which includes a lodge, conference center, swimming pool, marina , a promenade and a gazebo.
Organizers hope to use the development to expand statewide an award-winning chess program started in Franklin County in 2015, which was nationally acclaimed as one of the most successful recreational and educational programs of its kind in elementary schools nationwide. Chess teaches critical thinking, analytical, and problem-solving skills that can be applied in education and business.
“This public-private partnership will be a gateway to the future economic development of the Scenic Rivers region of Southwest Mississippi,” noted Vince mangold, the Republican District 53 representing the region in the Mississippi House of Representatives. “(Our region) has long needed a centerpiece for outdoor recreation and we will soon have one,” said Meadville Mayor B. Reed Lane.
Franklin County Supervisor Pat Larkin echoed Reed’s assessment. “The development of Lake Okhissa has long been a top priority for the county. In addition to the Lodge, our region has long needed a space for workforce training. With today’s ribbon cutting, we are taking a giant step towards making this a reality.
Business leaders also said the development would help move the region forward, create jobs and boost the local economy. “I’ve heard for a long time that incremental progress brings exponential results,” said Bradley jones, president of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. “Our celebration highlights gradual progress towards a regional goal.”
A key element linked to the success of the project, which is in a sparsely populated area next to a national forest, will be a robust telecommunications infrastructure. CEO of C Spire Hu Meena said his company was determined to continue its efforts to aggressively deploy broadband infrastructure statewide, including the Southwest region, to support efforts to improve economic development, l education, jobs and quality of life for all.
For more information on the Scenic Rivers Development Alliance, visit www.visitscenicrivers.com.
About Scenic Rivers Development Alliance
The scenic rivers region is the jewel of Southwest Mississippi leisure and Southern Mississippi tourism. The Scenic Rivers Development Alliance is a regional effort to promote events, outdoor activities, natural and economic resources in Amite, Franklin, Pike, Walthall and Wilkinson counties as well as the town of McComb.
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