CANToN — Nissan is bringing quite a good deal of new business to Canton and that is a good thing, say many businessmen and women in the area.
“We’re already working for Nissan,” said Deborah Anderson, executive director of the Canton Chamber of Commerce/Main Street. “We have inquiries everyday, not only about Nissan, but as far as downtown, we’ve always had people interested in buildings available. There are inquiries daily.”
Now those inquiries have gone past the Square, Anderson said, for one reason because the Square is running out of space.
“It’s been nice,” Anderson said. “We’ve always been on the map but it’s a lot more so now.”
There are people other than suppliers who are looking at Canton now too. Victor Gray Lewis, planning and zoning director for the City of Canton, said there has been an increase in building permits for restaurants and hotels too.
“You’re going to see industrial increasing and then the opportunity for commercial to increase,” he said. “What we also hope to capture is our share of residential growth. I think it’s going to bring a rather large boom for the whole Madison County area.”
Already Canton has acquired some third tier suppliers, including APAC, an asphalt manufacturing supply company, and Jackson Ready-Mix. The Martin-Marietta Aggregate Company also now has a location in Canton.
“We have a new industrial park in Canton that’s private industry and on that site these three industries came in and they all complement each other,” Lewis said. “It was kind of a package deal.”
Lewis said there is plenty of room for other suppliers and anyone else who wishes to do business in Canton as well.
A group of Canton city officials recently visited Smyrna, Tenn., where there is another Nissan Motor Manufacturing plant. There they were given a comprehensive outline of what they should expect to have happen in Canton.
“It’s happening as it was described,” Lewis said. “Growth is going to occur. Fortunately Canton had just adopted a new comprehensive plan. In many ways we were ahead of the game.”
Larry Smith, director of planning with the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District, said CMPDD is in the process of updating population projections in Madison County for 2025.
“We did a plan in the ‘90s and submitted a proposal to update it this year,” Smith said.
Smith hopes to have 2025 projections for most of the Jackson urbanized area, not including Canton, within the next couple of weeks. The second phase, for 2030, as part of Jackson’s Mississippi Unified Long-range Transportation and Infrastructure Plan, or multi-plan, will include Canton, and should be completed by late 2003 or early 2004.
Even without taking the direct impact of Nissan into account, Smith said Madison County could easily double in size.
“I think that’s a safe bet within 20 years,” he said. “Probably more than that, but certainly double. I think that’s a no-brainer.”
The 2000 population of Madison County was 74,000. Smith said it should reach 140,000 to 150,000 by 2020.
Sandra Harvey, general manager of Canton Square Antique Mall on the Square at the corner of Peace and Union streets, said Nissan has not made much of a difference in her business thus far. “We have had a few more people in but nothing that I can say has affected us,” she said.
But Harvey expects she will see more customers in the future once the Nissan project is nearer completion. “With more people we should have more sales and that’s what we’re hoping,” she said.
Debbie Davidson serves lunch Monday through Saturday and dinner Thursday and Friday nights at Davidson’s Corner Market on the northeast corner of the Square in Canton. The owner of the Market, she also does outside catering at her business and runs a kitchen and gourmet food shop out of it.
Davidson said she could see some differences Nissan has made on Canton already.
But, she said, “From what I gather we really do not fully understand what’s going to happen in this town. I feel we’ll have more restaurants, more service stations, I hope the empty buildings on the Square fill with something. I think a lot of people still don’t really understand what’s going to happen. I still have a hard time thinking about what it’s going to be two or three years from now.”
Already, Davidson, who opened her business in October 1999 and opened the restaurant in April 2000, has plans for expansion.
Johnny Stewart, the owner of the white tablecloth, fine dining establishment called Two Rivers Restaurant at the intersection of Mississippi 22 and I-55 in Canton, said he too has seen a lot of traffic due to the Nissan construction.
“People are steadily moving in,” he said. “I think it (Nissan) represents 10% or 15% of my business now.”
Stewart expects Nissan to cause a major expansion in Canton in the future.
“I don’t know if the infrastructure and all will be ready but I guess we’ll find out,” he said.
And insofar as Two Rivers Restaurant is concerned, Stewart expects to see a 20% increase in the business between now and next year just because of the amount of construction coming into town.
“I think we’re going to see this exit really boom on this side of town,” he said.
Contact MBJ staff writer Elizabeth Kirkland at email@example.com or (601) 364-1042.