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Agreements show bright future ahead for Vicksburg’s riverfront

Two down, one to go.

In recent weeks, the city of Vicksburg has reached agreements with one of the two cruise lines that docks in Vicksburg and another that is scheduled to arrive in 2022. These agreements lay out plans to build docking facilities along the Vicksburg riverfront at no cost to city taxpayers.

In exchange for unused riverfront space, American Cruise Lines and Viking Cruise Lines, will build out their own docking facilities and, in addition to developing the riverfront property granted them, they will also pay the city a set fee per passenger that steps off of the boats.

The third company, American Queen Steamboat Co., is in discussions for a similar lease, although the timeline for an agreement has not been announced.

What these deals have done has not only further strengthened the bonds between the city and a vital tourism pipeline provided by the riverboats, but it has also given the city of Vicksburg a way to develop portions of the riverfront at no cost or risk to taxpayers.

This newspaper, in editorials, has challenged the city’s leadership to make developing Vicksburg’s riverfront a priority, a priority that we know does not come cheap. Yet, any investment in the riverfront, whether it is to the direct benefit of local residents or those visiting Vicksburg, is an investment in Vicksburg’s economy.

This year, with nearly nine months of canceled riverboat dockings due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, downtown Vicksburg — and Vicksburg as a whole — has felt the impact of not having those visitors. Downtown shops, museums and tourist destinations that have grown to rely on the foot traffic and revenue brought in by the riverboats have admittedly struggled this year. They — along with the rest of us — cannot wait for the boats to return.

But while we wait for those majestic boats to once again crowd themselves along the riverfront, we take comfort knowing that these companies have big plans for Vicksburg. It is also comforting knowing that Vicksburg’s leadership is taking the idea of riverfront redevelopment seriously and finding unique ways — inexpensive ways — to make big things happen.

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