Meridian prepares for more businesses to open

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - "So far, so good," is how economic development officials are describing the climate this year for new businesses in Meridian. In fact, some are even calling it an overall "banner" year.

Meridian welcomed its latest new business Thursday morning. Julep Antiques & Gifts is one of almost a half dozen others that have opened in the area so far this year.

"We love downtown," says B.J. Hatten, who is one of the co-owners for the business. "It's growing so much, and we wanted to offer something different and unique."

Since April alone, officials with the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation say ribbon cuttings have been held for almost 20 businesses throughout the city, and even more since January.

"We've had probably over 40 new businesses open this year," says Debby Delshad, who is the director for Meridian Main Street. "Some of them are just re-dedications or grand openings."

If things go as planned, another business will open in North Meridian within the next two weeks.

"Everybody thinks our business is named after my husband, but it's named after our precious dog."

Micki Sampey, her husband Sean, and their son own Charlie's Seafood Market on Poplar Springs Drive. They're preparing for a ribbon cutting to be held there in October.

"I think we're going to bring a product that Meridian is looking for," says Sean Sampey.

The Sampey's are from the New Orleans area. Several years ago Sean worked at the Mississippi Power plant in Kemper County. Since that time, they've decided to stay.

"I chose Meridian because everybody's friendly," says Sean.

"I love the community," says Micki. "The community is so friendly. So, I said, 'Look, let's go ahead and do this!'"

According to EMBDC officials, efforts are being made to open even more businesses within the city.

"Absolutely, absolutely, we are hearing of a couple of new restaurants that are coming in downtown," says Delshad. "So, we're excited about that."

The president for the EMBDC's board says efforts are also being made to attract high paying jobs to the area.

"It's competitive," says Jeff McCoy, "but we're hopeful that something's going to happen, hopefully, sooner than later."

As for Julep Antiques & Gifts, it's located on the corner of 23rd Avenue and Front Street in downtown Meridian. It's open Monday through Friday from 10 AM until 5 PM. It's also open on Saturdays when the Earth's Bounty Festival is held in downtown.