A new chapter for a historic community in Hinds County is offering excitement and challenges to its citizens and leaders.
After nearly a decade of legal maneuverings, Byram has fended off the City of Jackson’s efforts at annexing it, and there will be plenty for the town’s officeholders to manage. The town, located on Interstate 55, is bursting at the seams with new growth, both commercial and residential. And, a proposed new roadway linking Byram with Clinton/West Jackson is expected to bring even more business.
Hammers and nails
Driving down Siwell Road, it is astounding just how many new businesses are either going up or are recently completed. New banks, stores and retail centers of all kinds, real estate offices, drug stores, restaurants and more line both sides of the road.
According to the Mississippi Development Authority’s “New and Expanded Facilities Report,” which is compiled from various sources and is not all inclusive of the area’s growth, the total estimated capital investment in the projects in Byram from January-April of this year was approximately $2.56 million, led by the new Value Place Hotel.
With all this services sector growth, one might assume that people are moving to Byram to live in some numbers. According to Blake Wallace, executive director of the Hinds County Economic Development District (HCEDD), that is a proper conclusion to reach.
“We’re continuing to hear from prospects interested in Hinds County in general. But, yes, Byram continues to grow,” he said.
HCEDD director of business development Benjie Barham has been with the organization for a half-decade now, and he continues to be amazed by the inquiries about the Byram area.
“There is quite a high level of interest in Byram,” Barham said. “It’s not just people moving from the Jackson area. There are a lot of people moving around in Byram.”
How much interest in moving around? Barham said the latest numbers he saw had between 1,500-2,00 new housing units planned or platted.
While the services sector is spearheading Byram’s growth, there is an industrial base near the community. Both the Greater Jackson Industrial Park and the J.C. “Sonny” McDonald Industrial Center, while not in Byram proper, are near the town and offer significant employers. The Greater Jackson Industrial Park is currently full, and Wallace said his group continues to field a heavy volume of inquiries about the J.C. “Sonny” McDonald Industrial Center.
Byram has a long history, and was once a chartered community. Now, the community is preparing for its second and, at least leaders hope, final time as an incorporated community. The town is awaiting a judge’s final ruling on some technicalities, but the town’s boundaries have been set, and the new municipal government is gearing up to take office.
They will have a full plate. Explosive growth means healthy tax collections, which will be needed for all of the area’s ever-increasing infrastructure needs.
Another measure of the community’s growth, a new middle school was recently completed, but was already utilizing portable buildings before the last nail was pounded home. Byram’s school’s will remain under the Hinds County School District, but other services and infrastructure will be the town’s responsibility.
Wallace said the charter means the community can now better manage the growth. Interim alderman Amy Douglas agreed, and is anxious for local leaders to have some say in what is being built and where.
“We want to be able to plan what is going in,” Douglas said. “We want green areas, and generally a nice community for people to live in.”
Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at email@example.com.