DeSoto County is the fastest-growing county in the state, and the seventh fastest- growing county in the nation. An average of eight families a day are moving to the county that anchors the northeastern part of the state south of Memphis.
The first wave of development in housing is being following by a commercial development boom.
“Our residential growth has been so fast — we have grown 490% in the 10 years between the 1990 to 2000 census,” said Vicki DuPree, executive director of the Olive Branch Chamber of Commerce. “Residential comes first because you must have the residential before the commercial will move in. Now we have a large residential community that is very family oriented, and commercial businesses are moving in. Over the past two years we have seen commercial development really blossom. I expect to see more commercial development over the next few years. Sales tax revenues have increased a lot especially since the Wal-Mart store has moved in.”
A strip shopping center near the Wal-Mart Supercenter is nearly full and another hot spot of commercial development on Goodman Road includes the DeSoto Athletic Club, a convenience store, fabric store, liquor store and restaurants.
As more commercial businesses locate in the area, it is hoped the local residents will shop at home rather than buying at stores across the Tennessee state line. That helps with local sales tax revenues to fund local government.
“As people have more opportunity to shop at home, I believe they will stay here,” Dupree said. “We promote trying to create loyalty for the local businesses by the residents who are here and moving in the area.”
Other commercial development activity includes several new office parks. The downtown area continues to be popular for antique and gift shopping.
The largest municipality in DeSoto County, Southaven, expects a regional mall will be constructed soon.
“We are very close to having a regional mall here,” said Diane Hill, executive director of the Southaven Chamber of Commerce. “We expect to have an announcement sometime in early summer. That is something that has been a long time in the works. Everyone is very excited about having a regional mall that will be a new concept, open-air design. All of our pull factors are high. The growth factors are high, and a lot of the amenities that developers want to see are in place. We are situated on I-55 North, which is desirable because it gives our neighboring consumers easy access to us.”
Southaven also has a new Lowe’s store opening this summer, and Kohl’s Department store recently announced plans to build a store in Southaven.
Horn Lake is also seeing a surge of commercial development activity.
“I see no end to the development,” said Don Wilkinson, executive director, Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce. “It just keeps coming. The site people are in here by the tons. Everywhere you look there is new construction. There is a lot of new development. Some we just can’t talk about yet because it isn’t etched in stone.”
A large commercial development called DeSoto Commons has been on the drawing board for a while. The roads are in, and work has started on a new 93,000-square-foot medical building complex.
There are five new subdivisions in Horn Lake, and new apartment complexes under construction.
“We have one subdivision with over 400 rooftops in it, and it is about 80% sold, from what I understand,” Wilkinson said. “There is a lot of interest in the area. People come in from out of state, go to the casinos, drive through Horn Lake, and look around. They like the area and end up buying a home and settling down here. A lot of retired people are coming in, according to the leasing and sales people at the development subdivisions. We have several restaurants looking at Horn Lake right now. All of this is because of the rooftops.”
Three family medical practice facilities have opened, which Wilkinson said were much needed. And a new strip center is under construction on Goodman Road.
DeSoto’s southernmost municipality, Hernando, is also seeing growth in commercial development activity, says Brian Goff, executive director, Hernando Main Street/Chamber of Commerce.
“Hernando is still by and large a bedroom community,” Goff said. “We are averaging a new 1.5 house per day in Hernando. And we’re seeing a consistent pattern of commercial development going on. We have some high-end, big name commercial developments eyeing Hernando at this time. Our population is reaching the level that a lot of regional and national retail outlets are looking to locate here. We have had a tremendous number of residential developments over the past 12 months and more slated for Hernando. We’re seeing a pattern of churches and banks opening new locations in Hernando. When you see banks and churches starting from scratch or expanding in your community, that is always a positive sign.”
Being located the farthest from the Memphis area, Hernando has been the last municipality in DeSoto County to experience a growth boom. Goff said that has worked to their advantage, allowing the city to adopt a controlled-growth philosophy.
“Development in the past two to three years has been well-planned, well thought out and the community itself is reaping the benefits from that,” Goff said. “We have a good quality of life in an area rich in history with a high standard of living. That is adding to the attractiveness for people looking to relocate.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Becky Gillette at firstname.lastname@example.org.