After being passed over for the same grant last year, Mayor Cheri Barry and the Meridian City Council decided to apply again. They feel that the African American Business District has been neglected, and want to revitalize it like they have with other parts of downtown.
"It's going to create economic development for the city of Meridian. It's going to bring our community even closer. I think you're going to see a lot of things happening because of this economic development tool through the Economic Transportation Grant,"
said Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry.
Meridian beat out a number of other cities for the grant, and Commissioner Dick Hall with the Mississippi Department of Transportation presented the 1 Million dollar check to the city, and he says he chose this project not only because he saw the need, but also because Meridian has historically been good stewards with taxpayer money.
"She convinced me that it wasn't just an infrastructure project to build, but it was something that could mean so much to the community, and also the history of the city of Meridian. They've done a good job administering funds like this in the past."
Area business owners are extremely excited for the improvements that will include new sidewalks, new streetscape furniture, period lighting, and landscaping. They believe that the cosmetic improvements will lead to an increase in business.
Sam Dabit, owner of Sam's Fashion believes that, "It's going to improve the business, it's going to improve everything, and if it's spent the right way, it's going to improve the whole area."
"A lot of the property owners downtown are excited about it. It gives them an incentive to renovate their properties to make the area look a lot better, and perception has a lot to do with business," said State Representative Charles Young JR, whose family owns the E.F. Young Hotel.
Work should begin after the first of the year.