It’s hard to believe we’re about to enter the final weeks of 2021! Over the past few days, I’ve assessed the progress we’ve made towards renewing Natchez this year, and now I’m starting to look forward to the goals and plans we have on the horizon for 2022.
With the help of our lobbyists, former Congressman Gregg Harper and Manning McPhillips, we were able to accomplish some major elements of our 2021 legislative agenda – and the future is bright!
It was a pleasure to see the governing bodies and organizations that represent our wonderful city and county working together to achieve common goals. The Town of Natchez, the Adams County Board of Supervisors, the Natchez Adams School District, Natchez Inc., the Natchez National Park staff, the Natchez Adams Chamber of Commerce and the Caring Citizens truly work as one. unity, and we are starting to see the fruits of our labor!
I am pleased to report on some of the tremendous successes we have achieved over the past twelve months. We were able to secure $ 1,000,000 in public funds to complete the Belwood fundraising in the industrial park. As a large area will no longer be prone to flooding, we are able to significantly increase the size of the footprint of the area available for industrial development. As a result, Velocys will now be able to build a state-of-the-art $ 1.5 billion biofuel plant, the largest in America, adding hundreds of high paying jobs to our region!
We were also able to secure $ 400,000 in federal procurement funds for the Road Slave Market Forks and ensure that the request of $ 538,000 for the current fiscal year was included in the President’s budget request and was been included in House and Senate supply bills. We will continue to work on this very important project, so that this piece of American history has proper recognition and a designated place for solemn reflection.
As we continue to work to achieve our priority of returning commercial air service to our area, I am delighted that the Natchez-Adams County Airport has received $ 572,928 from the Federal Aviation Administration to complete the runway improvements. . This is one of the many steps required to bring our airport up to the standards that commercial airlines look for when considering bringing service to an airport. We look forward to achieving this goal as we seek more opportunities to make this dream a reality.
Last year we were able to work with MDOT to secure the installation of tapes, reflectors and better drainage for Morgantown Road. It is essential that we improve conditions in this busy area as it has been far too dangerous for far too long. US Representative Michael Guest and US Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith have included $ 2,400,000 in transportation appropriation bills to fund improvements to Morgantown Road until completion. Unfortunately, the internal bill has been amended to include no postings. Yet the request for funding remains in federal appropriation bills. We will work diligently until these funds are secure and the improvements are completed.
Our 2022 legislative agenda includes many priorities that address a myriad of needs for both our city and our county. These priorities include a study of city-wide drainage issues, upgrading our airport terminal, re-lighting the Mississippi River bridges, continued funding for Forks of the Road, continued improvement to Morgantown Road. , broadband expansion, an extension of the film tax credit, granting “first responder status” to public works employees, and an increased focus on workforce development. I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and keep working hard to see these goals come to fruition! Natchez deserves more.
Dan Gibson is mayor of Natchez.