From Pearl to Pelahatchie and from Richland to Flowood, businesses are sprouting up all over Rankin County.
“There’s been marked growth in Richland, Florence, Brandon, Pearl and Flowood and parts of the county around the Reservoir and along Highway 471,” said Tom Troxler, executive director of Rankin First Economic Development Authority. “I couldn’t segment one from the other because they’ve all grown so much in the last two or three years.”
Marked economic growth with new business and industry has translated into substantial growth in family income. Rankin County has the highest average family household income in the state with an estimated $65,374, Troxler said.
While the rest of the state enjoys a low 4% unemployment rate, Rankin County has the lowest 12-month unemployment rate in Mississippi at 2%.
In Brandon, the East Metropolitan Center, a 1,000-acre publicly owned development that houses General Motors, its first tenant, opened its 351,000-square-foot regional distribution center last year.
“There’s a lot of activity on Greenfield Road and Highway 80, where the new Jitney Premier is being built,” Troxler said. “The larger retailers have not announced it yet, but they have purchased land for commercial development.”
In Florence, a couple of small strips centers are in development, Troxler said.
“One strip center has opened, with a health center and various restaurants as tenants,” he said.
One of Rankin County’s fastest growing cities, Flowood is bustling with activity. Canebrake at the Refuge, a 45-acre site adjacent to the city’s new municipal golf course and less than five minutes from the Jackson International Airport, recently opened its first office building on Airport Road, which is almost fully leased, said Troxler.
Developers David N. Price and Ted J. Duckworth have plans for more office buildings, a hotel and a restaurant to be located on the perimeters of the golf course in the office park.
Country Place Business Park in Pearl is one of the hottest office spots in Rankin County, said Troxler.
“It’s one of three private-owned business parks in Pearl that is selling out quickly,” Troxler said. “Three or four more businesses were recently added.”
Mark S. Bounds Realty Partners in Madison, who is marketing an 18,000-square-foot building at Country Place Business Park, said the airport market is in really good shape.
“There’s been a lot of interest from tech companies who need small start-up locations near the airport,” he said. “I think it may be a little industry that’s starting to brew and needs access to the airport.”
Veritas/Digicon, an international seismic logging company out of Houston, will be liquidating its real estate assets in Rankin County, which includes office headquarters and 14-acre site on Excel Drive in Pearl, said Bounds.
All 12 lots at the Metro Airplex Business Park on Airport Road in Pearl have been sold with four or five buildings already completed. Across the street on Concourse Drive Extension, six or seven upscale buildings have been finished and all lots have been sold, Troxler said.
Riverwind Development in Pearl, initially a 35-acre project, has experienced significant retail development and now has more than 150 acres. After the completion of the Cinemark Theater and a Cracker Barrel spurred other commitments, construction dust has been stirring nonstop.
“The secret of the whole development is that there’s no place in the state that intersects so many points — Highway 49, Highway 80, Interstate 20 and Interstate 55,” said Judy Hall.
As room runs out in larger residential communities, the land between Brandon and north Pelahatchie is being scooped up for residential subdivisions, Troxler said.
“Last year, a little over 1,200 homes were added,” he said. “Five new subdivisions have been approved and are in development to accommodate the population growth.”
In Pelahatchie, the city with slightly more than 1,500 residents has jobs for almost two-thirds of the population. The industrial park in Pelahatchie that houses Multicraft, Mississippi Bakeries, Stanwood Sports Wear, Multitech International and Choctaw Maid Farms is almost full, Troxler said.
“New large commercial mini-market service stations have been added in the last year or so,” Troxler said. “You used to see only one along the highway, now you see about four.”
Even unincorporated Puckett, a community of about 300, has flourished from expansions at Hydro Aluminum-Puckett.
“Hydro Aluminum continues to expand, upgrade equipment and add employees,” he said, adding that there are as many employees as town residents.
Thanks to recent major highway improvements, Richland is booming, said Bonnie B. Parkison, executive assistant of Rankin County Chamber of Commerce.
“The Highway 49 South corridor is really growing, and a lot of residential growth has taken place over the last few years,” said Parkison. “Business is moving into Richland, such as the Super Wal-Mart that is currently under development.”
In Rankin County, hotels and strip centers continue to fill in the corridors of Lakeland Drive. A Wal-Mart SuperCenter recently opened at Grant’s Ferry and the growth pattern seems headed toward the Jackson International Airport, Troxler said.
“The new mall, Dogwood Festival, is supposed to break ground on June 1,” said Troxler. “It’s supposed to be unlike anything we’ve seen.”
Located near the intersection of Lakeland Drive and Old Fannin Road will be the state’s largest open shopping center. Dogwood Bluff, a 400-acre mixed-use development in Flowood, will emulate the Summit in Birmingham, the totally open lifestyle shopping center with approximately 700,000 square feet. Construction will begin later this spring and will be developed in several phases by Aronov Realty Management.
Prospective retailers are already lining up, said Bounds, who is leasing retail and office space for Aronov Realty.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 364-1018.
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