Meridian Designated 'Entertainment District'

By: Lindsey Brown Email
By: Lindsey Brown Email

Officials attending the event noted that Meridian has a long history as an entertainment city.

"This right there is going to be the foundation to what is going to bring Mississippi and put her back on the map," said Mayor Cheri Barry.

The district is comprised of the downtown area, but also extends to the interstate which would include the old Village Fair Mall and the midtown area.

"We look forward to the possibilities that lie ahead of us, and continuing to enjoy not only the arts district but the arts as a whole," said Lauderdale County supervisor Craig Hitt.

And it looks like the city has the opportunity to think outside the box. Those who drafted the legislation at the state capitol say the ways investors might use these incentives are varied.

"It's very broad. It allows for things as diverse as music halls, museums, even golf courses," said state Rep. Greg Snowden. "Entertainment venues are allowed for this."

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said he isn't surprised city officials jumped on this opportunity.

Hosemann called it a win-win for local residents and those looking to go into business. He had a main role in the legislation, which passed in 2009.

"One, it will allow more arts and songs and people to come here, but it also gives a tax break from them," Hosemann said.

Also on hand for the announcement was a local businessman who recently spoke out on WTOK's On the Record program in support of this type of incentive.

Peavey Electronics founder, Hartley Peavey, had a prominent seat in the audience.

"I don't know that this bill is perfect, Hartley, but it certainly is a good step in the right direction," said Rep. Snowden. "And you and others I know helped Delbert put this together and stood behind us to get it passed."

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