By CALEB BEDILLION / Daily Journal 

TUPELO – The Lee County Board of Supervisors has agreed to spend a little more than $3 million to purchase land for a new industrial park called the Hive.

Under a proposal approved by supervisors Monday morning, the county will acquire nearly 500 acres, which comprises half of a potentially 1,000 acre site located immediately north of state Highway 76 in Tupelo and to the west of Bissell Road.

The county will retain a five-year option to purchase the remaining 500 acres at a similar price.

The total 1,000 acre site is currently farmland owned by Hancock family heirs.

Planning for the Hive has been underway for years by the Community Development Foundation, especially as the amount of available land at the county’s other industrial parks has contracted in the face of continuing interest in the Northeast Mississippi region from the manufacturing industry.

“Our success has brought us to the point where we need to think about the next generation of industrial parks,” CDF President and CEO David Rumbarger told supervisors Monday.

Board of Supervisors President Mike Smith sounded a similar note in a written statement he released.

“Developing the Hive in west Tupelo is the next step in growing our economy while maintaining our position as one of the strongest manufacturing communities in the United States,” Smith said.

Rumbarger and local government leaders have in the past described the Hive as a “next-generation” business park.

On Monday, Rumbarger again told supervisors that the park will position the county to competitively seek advanced technology firms. He also noted, however, that with Toyota announcing the construction of a new manufacturing plant outside Huntsville, Alabama, the Hive could also prove attractive to automobile manufacturing suppliers.

Lee County also intends to seek a little more than $1 million in grant funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission. If awarded to Lee County, this money will be used to construct an access road throughout part of the Hive, with access available onto Highway 76.

Last summer, Lee County and Tupelo voted to create a regional economic development alliance in order to administer the creation of the Hive.

Rumbarger explained on Monday that while Lee County is spending money to acquire the necessary property, Tupelo will shoulder the task of installing water and sewer infrastructure at the proposed industrial park.