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Legislature allows city to provide crucial funding to MCITy project

The Thad Cochran Mississippi Center for Innovation and Technology, also known as MCITy, will be the beneficiary of $300,000 a year from the city of Vicksburg for the next five years.

The Mississippi Legislature passed a local and private, or special bill, to allow the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to allocate $300,000 a year to MCITy through 2025.

The Legislature also approved a local and private bill allowing the board to adopt a vacant building registration ordinance. Both bills are awaiting the governor’s signature.

“MCITy is very important to the future of Vicksburg and we were able to get them (the Legislature) to do a five-year bill in which we can go within the next five years and prove we don’t have to be capped by years; that we plan to make the ($300,000) commitment for the next five years, also,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said. “It is imperative that we be able to spend $300,000 a year on that building to conclude the financing of the building, so that’s a great piece of legislation.”

When MCITy was proposed in 2017, it was seen as a project to promote the development of new technology for different markets, technology transfer and entrepreneurship by providing a source to help people start their own companies and compete for contracts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center.

While that goal still exists, project officials said MCITy’s reach is expected to be broader to encourage innovation in a variety of ways.

The special bill for MCITy allows the board to fulfill an August 2017 commitment Flaggs made when the project was introduced to contribute $300,000 toward the project.

City Attorney Nancy Thomas said in January when the board decided to seek the bill that the local and private bill was necessary because while the city can, by law, contract with another public agency for services, there is no provision that allows the board to enter into a long-term contract to obligate subsequent boards without legislative approval.

The initial special bill sought 10 years but was later reduced.

The bill allowing the vacant building registration ordinance provides city officials with another weapon to crack down on vacant, derelict buildings in the city.

“This absolutely gives us the authority in Vicksburg to go inspect them before they become deteriorated to the extent that they are useless in our city,” Flaggs said.

“That’s going to help us bring up commercial buildings in our community as we do houses and demolish them as we do houses that are beyond repair.”

He said the board will begin working on the ordinance as soon as it is signed by the governor.

The bill is the result of discussions by the board concerning problems with commercial buildings that were vacated and left to deteriorate through demolition by neglect.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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