Meridian, Miss. The city of Meridian and Lauderdale County have pledged economic support for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center. But it's the economic support this area will eventually see that has people talking.
The future Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center will serve as the hub for arts and entertainment in the Queen City and arguably the state of Mississippi. While the facility is not set to open for more than three years, the excitement is already building.
"We've seen it out there for so long, to now know it's in the cusp of happening, is extremely exciting," Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center Executive Director Marty Gamblin says.
"What this brings to this part of the state, all of the arts and entertainment, education, it'll bring true growth to this city," Meridian Chief Administrative Officer Curt Goldacker says.
Gamblin spoke to members of Meridian's Rotary Club. Gamblin said the facility will be more than just an 8:00 to 5:00 operation and will target people of all ages. Gamblin told Newscenter 11 it will be a place that will allow people to pursue their artistic dreams, while attracting tourists who are passing through Meridian.
"Meridian is a transit city," Gamblin says. "We've got people, you know I don't know how many cars pass on I-20 every day, but we need to get those people off and getting them here spending time in the city. Spending money!"
"But it means so much in the ability of Meridian to be that base for arts and entertainment," Goldacker adds. "And what it means to be a true Mississippian."
Gamblin admits there have definitely been struggles getting to this point in the process, but says it will all be worth it in the end, especially given the support of the community and from stars like Sela Ward.
"We now have an opportunity to showcase the abundance of our amazing homegrown talent," Ward said during a prerecorded presentation. "Indeed, there must be something in the water here. And we're so excited to celebrate it and share it with the world."