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USM’s Innovation and Commercialization Park Awarded $3.4M Site Development Grant from MDA

Fri, 02/18/2022 - 14:53pm

Hattiesburg, Mississippi – The Mississippi Development Authority recently awarded a $3.4M grant to The Garden – The University of Southern Mississippi’s Innovation and Commercialization Park (ICP) from their Site Development Grant – Select Sites Program.

Home to 22-acres located off of Classic Drive and Shelby Thames Drive in North Hattiesburg, the funding will go toward making the site more attractive for future light industrial business development opportunities. The grant funding will be used for the following:

  • clearing, grubbing and grading the site;
  • constructing an access road; and,
  • making water and sewer system upgrades.

The MDA’s Development Grant – Select Sites program was established in 2021 to deliberately increase the number of highly competitive industrial sites in the state that are available and ready to meet the needs of potential companies. The ICP was one of 20 sites throughout Mississippi identified for potential funding and was one of seven to be selected.

“I am very proud that the Pine Belt was awarded this grant through the Select Sites funding,” said House District 102 Representative Missy McGee. “The funding for this project site and the I-59 Supply Chain Park continues the momentum of expanding business in South Mississippi. It’s also a reflection of how well our delegation works as a team to make sure we’re putting our best foot forward as a region.”

As a byproduct of regional collaboration, the Area Development Partnership will serve as project lead for all economic development projects considering the Park and will work with both local and county government agencies to aid in the Park’s continued growth and regional success.

“Collaboration is critical to applying for and receiving grant funds of this nature. Our local leaders continue to come to the table, to think broadly and to advocate for projects that will have a positive impact across the region,” said Chad Newell, president of the Area Development Partnership. “Home to USM’s Accelerator, which is already operating at full capacity with the demand for additional space, these site-ready upgrades will increase our competitive business advantages as a region.”

The Accelerator is a 60,000 square foot technology-focused business incubator that houses public research ventures, private-sector startup companies, and large national and multi-national companies in a collaborative environment. It also houses the Mississippi Polymer Institute (MPI) and serves as the connecting entity between the School of Polymer Science and Engineering and the fast-growing high-tech polymer industry. Offering full-service technical and scientific resources for material-based industries, its success is directly related to growing Mississippi’s multibillion-dollar polymer industry.

“This is a significant second step in the strategic plan for our Innovation and Commercialization Park, and we appreciate the collaborative work by many parties to make this happen,” said Dr. Gordon Cannon, Vice President for Research at The University of Southern Mississippi. “This will provide a permanent location for an advanced light industrial business, which is a key goal for our Technology Garden, and we look forward to continued developments that will make this a great work-live-play community.”

This grant is a collaborative effort between The University of Southern Mississippi, the City of Hattiesburg and Forrest County. Each of these entities will work together in partnership to support development opportunities at the ICP and make the Park more attractive for future projects.

“We continue our trajectory toward being a premier city in the Gulf South, with an emphasis on regional job creation that can aid in the recruitment and retention of young talent in our city and at our universities,” said Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker. “We are grateful for a legislative delegation that consistently delivers for our region, and we’re proud to be part of the continued advancement of The Garden and the development and commercialization opportunities that it will spur for decades to come.”

The grant funding awarded from the Site Development Grant – Select Sites Program will assist in preparing the Innovation and Commercialization Park’s premier light industrial site for future projects and create more momentum for future developments.