Efforts to attract more businesses to downtown Meridian are succeeding. A grand opening was held today for a new soul food restaurant. It's called Mama Dee's. Located along 5th Street, it's the latest component in a larger plan to improve, not only the city's historic African American Business District, but the downtown area as a whole.
For Carolyn Little owning her own restaurant has been a desire for quite some time.
"Well, the Lord gave me a vision 15 years ago to start a restaurant, and so I just kept holding on to the vision that he gave me and he brought it to pass," says Little.
The grand opening of Mama Dee's is part of a larger plan to further help revitalize what's known as Meridian's Historic African-American Business District.
"This is going to be part of that new energy that we are looking for to be in this particular district," says Terrance Davis, who works with
the city's Division of Community Development. He says within the next week action could be taken that will improve not only this district, but downtown as a whole.
"The first sum of money that we have with the MDA (Mississippi Development Authority) is going to help with our sewage systems, and with our water systems underground," says Davis.
With the bidding for the sewage work in downtown set to start within the next week, Davis says whatever company gets the work will have to finish it by next summer. Once that happens the streetscape work will start.
"We're going to widen the sidewalks here," says Davis. "We're going to put in some greenery. We're going to put in some benches. We're going to also put in some lighting in this area, and bring some more businesses back to this area."
At this time it's unknown exactly when the streetscape work will start or finish. No matter when this happens, the owner of Mama Dee's says she's very optimistic about the future for her business within this part of downtown.
"I'm very confident because I know that this is a vision from God, and what God ordains he sustains," says Little.