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Mississippi Sound Coalition working to stop Mid-Breton sediment diversion project in Louisiana

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Mississippi Sound Coalition working to stop Mid-Breton sediment diversion project in Louisiana


BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) – The Bonnet Carre Spillway opened 13 times in 2019. Low salinity caused marine life in the sound to die, leaving fishermen with no catch.

Cary Trapani said fishing in Bay St. Louis hasn’t been the same since all the freshwater flowed into the Mississippi Sound, killing shrimp, crabs, and oysters.

“Our way of life was devastated,” Trapani said. “The salinity level was so low. It couldn’t sustain life or the main fish or the oysters or what have you.”

Trapani learned that officials in Louisiana want to rebuild marshlands as part of a Mid-Breton Sound sediment diversion project.

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That’s why he met with the Mississippi Sound Coalition and the University of Southern Mississippi on Tuesday, to find ways to prevent this from happening.

“Freshwater will take over the sound which would change everything,” he said.

The proposed Breton Sound Project aims to rebuild Louisiana marshlands and divert more fresh water. Mississippi Sound Coalition Manager Gerald Blessey believes this will do more harm to marine life in the Sound.

“If you want to restore Louisiana, don’t do it with diversion water, dredge the Mississippi River,” Blessey said. “Everything that must have some saltwater and cannot live with too much pollution will be gone.”

The Coalition is also concerned about studies from the University of Southern Mississippi that show if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would open the spillway more over the next 15 years, causing algae blooms again, beaches to close, and impact tourism, as well as the seafood industry.

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153 bottlenose dolphins died after the 2019 spillway openings. The Mississippi Sound Coalition said that was the highest one-year loss ever, even when compared to the BP oil spill.

Blessey said he and the Mississippi Sound Coalition will be following these Breton Sound projects in Louisiana as well as working to prevent harmful impacts to the Mississippi Sound.

“Protect Louisiana from flooding and protect the Mississippi Sound from being destroyed and by the way, protect the Louisiana fisheries from being destroyed like they are in Plaquemines Parish and St. Bernard Parish,” he said.

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The Mississippi County Success Story (Clif Chitwood Commentary)

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The Mississippi County Success Story (Clif Chitwood Commentary)


THIS IS AN OPINION

We’d also like to hear yours.
Leave a comment below, tweet to us @ArkBusiness or email us

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Industrial recruitment is a highly competitive sport.

Location and political atmosphere count. Workforce availability and training capacity count. And money counts, often more than double.

Mississippi County residents understand this well. They have seen the benefits of using public funds to lower the capital cost of new economic development projects and how that results in improved economic, education and quality-of-life opportunities.

You’ve undoubtedly seen many headlines in Arkansas Business related to Mississippi County attracting billions of dollars in investments.

To date, the people of Mississippi County, in partnership with local entities, have invested approximately $78 million of local economic development funds to win industrial projects. The state of Arkansas, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Entergy, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and four governors of Arkansas have been constant partners, along with local government leaders.

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These investments have resulted in $8 billion of private capital investment in Mississippi County and the creation of approximately 8,000 jobs.

Faced with decades of population stagnation, the loss of 9,000 jobs and greater economic hardships in the 1990s — more than any decade since the Great Depression — the future did not look bright for our residents. Mississippi County residents are motivated for more.

They want opportunities. They want jobs. They want and have earned better.

In 2002, we presented a countywide sales tax designated to develop the state’s first county-level economic development foundation to recruit jobs and businesses to Mississippi County.

It worked so well that our residents renewed the 10-year tax in 2012 and again in 2022. It will now run until 2033, and I anticipate another renewal.

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Three decades later, we are the largest steel-producing county in the United States.

We have advantages like the Mississippi River, the BNSF Railroad, large natural gas pipelines and lots of flat land. But what set us apart from the many communities along the banks of the Mighty Mississippi? I believe it was our people and our will to challenge a future we did not want — to challenge it with our tax dollars, public support for economic development, and, most importantly, the belief that our future belonged to us.

People seem to have less and less appetite for taxes these days. So how have we done it in Mississippi County? Well, it’s hard to beat a 10,156% return on investment. That’s the result of $78 million invested by the county and $8 billion invested by local companies.

Those companies — Nucor, Zekelman, Lexicon Inc., Big River Steel, Hybar and others — have invested in large buildings and efficiencies, in addition to our people. An average steel industry worker makes in excess of $140,000 annually.

Several of our major employers are returning the favor of our investment by helping ensure their workers live where they work. Including through the Work Here, Live Here program, which invests 10% toward the purchase price of qualifying homes. So far, approximately $3 million has been invested toward the construction of 55 new homes.

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Companies are also investing in workforce training, giving residents an opportunity to gain the skills needed to join or remain in the industry as it becomes more efficient and tech-forward.

So what is the magic playbook for industrial recruitment? A region of people who are willing to invest in themselves and their future.


Clif Chitwood is CEO and president of the Great River Economic Development Foundation. He has been at the forefront of industry growth in Mississippi County that has led it to become the top steel-producing region in the U.S.  He can be reached at clif@cottontosteel.com.





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Mississippi passes bill supporting hurricane mitigation program

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Mississippi passes bill supporting hurricane mitigation program


PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) – With insurance rates rising across the nation, people in Mississippi are looking for ways to protect their homes without breaking the bank.

A program by the Mississippi Insurance Department is expected to help folks fortify their homes ahead of natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes.

The Comprehensive Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program was created in 2007, but didn’t receive funding until this year’s legislative session.

Mississippi House Bill 1705 will transfer $5 million from the state’s Surplus Lines Association to pay for the program.

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The bill also requires that MID issue a Request for Proposal for administration of the program, or operate the program internally, according to Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney.

Qualified applicants can receive up to $10,000 to help them “mitigate” their homes.

Mitigation includes “higher elevation, adding hurricane shutters, fastening your roof to the walls with hurricane straps and buying flood insurance, among other efforts.”

The program will be limited to the state’s lower six counties, which are Pearl River, Stone, George, Jackson, Harrison and Hancock counties.

Leaders said they’re hoping the program will match the success of similar programs in neighboring states like Alabama.

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“Their program has been very successful, and they’ve stabilized their insurance rates and have some lower rates than we do here in Mississippi, especially on the coastal areas,” said MIS Deputy Commissioner David Browning. “So, we’re trying to do what they’re doing.”

Mississippi law requires insurance companies to give discounts for homes mitigated to standards set by the Insurance Institute For Business And Home Safety.

There is no required amount for discounts, but folks usually receive up to 30-percent off.

Browning said the program will take a few months to set up, but a website will eventually be up for folks to apply and learn more about eligibility.

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USM Construction and Design Receives $200K Grant from the Mississippi State Board of Contractors – WXXV News 25

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USM Construction and Design Receives $200K Grant from the Mississippi State Board of Contractors – WXXV News 25


Pushing the boundaries of innovation and excellence in the built environment, The University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) School of Construction and Design has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Mississippi State Board of Contractors (MSBOC).

This grant will fund several initiatives within USM’s Construction Management program, aiming to enhance outreach activities to spark interest in the construction trades through hands-on learning experiences. The initiatives will also provide insights into career paths in the industry and support scholarships and professional development for both students and faculty.

Expressing his enthusiasm, the School Director Dr. Emre Bayraktar stated, “We are thankful for the unwavering support of the Mississippi State Board of Contractors, which serves as a driving force, propelling us to provide immersive and interactive learning experiences at Southern Miss for those who wish to explore or pursue opportunities in the built environment.”

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Dr. Bayraktar noted that the school recently achieved a significant milestone with the completion of the renovation of its cutting-edge construction practices laboratory. Now, his team can focus on engaging with current and prospective construction students by integrating the lab’s use into the curricula and outreach programs, making it the center of attraction.

“Now that we have completed the renovation of our construction practices laboratory, we plan on launching several strategic initiatives, strengthening the recruitment and retention of students and bridging the gap between academia and the construction industry,” said Dr. Bayraktar.

Among some of the projects that will elevate the Construction Management program, are:

  • An Immersive Construction Summer Camp:As the outfitting of the laboratory with state-of-the-art equipment and resources reaches completion, the revamped space will host a one-week summer camp for Mississippi high school students. Serving as a gateway for students to acquire practical skills, the camp will also provide a platform for them to discover the various career pathways available at Southern Miss.
  • An Interactive Career Outreach and Discovery Program: Providing foundational insights into careers in construction, K-12 students will actively participate in activities within the new laboratory space. By interacting with professors and current students, they will be exposed to the diverse opportunities available in the construction industry.
  • Hiring of Lab Supervisor: Playing a pivotal role in integrating the lab into the construction management course curricula, the full-time lab supervisor will ensure that students benefit from hands-on learning experiences by providing them with invaluable skills and insights that extend beyond the classroom.
  • Launching Digital Marketing Campaigns: Launching campaigns on digital platforms will increase the visibility of the Construction Management program, attracting more students.
  • MSBOC Scholars Internship Program: To seamlessly blend academic teaching expertise with hands-on construction industry experience, a USM Construction Management faculty member will get the opportunity to work for a construction company over the summer. This will enable faculty to apply real-world examples in the classroom and improve their ability to teach theoretical concepts with practical scenarios.
  • Construction and Design Career Expos: Hosting a Career Expo each semester provides students with the opportunity to network with companies from the construction and design industry, which benefit from building their employer brand on campus and expanding their pool of qualified candidates.
  • The ABC Construction Management Competition:Enriching the educational experience, five construction management students and faculty advisors will attend the 2025 ABC Construction Management Competition. The competition prepares students for life by tasking them with finding solutions to a real-world construction project.
  • Scholarship Fund:Dedicated to supporting talented students who demonstrate a passion for the construction field, the scholarship fund ensures that financial limitations do not hinder a student’s pursuit of a quality education.

“We are very grateful for this grant, which will allow us to continue building upon our momentum,” said Dr. Bayraktar. “We look forward to providing both future and current students, as well as our faculty members, with the resources and experiences needed to meet the demands of the construction and design fields.”

Visit the website of the School of Construction and Design to learn more or call 601.266.4895.





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