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‘Proud to call it home’: Richland looks to grow community spirit

There are three faces of the Rankin County city of Richland, two of which are readily visible from U.S. Highway 49. In the north half of the city, its two industrial parks and the transportation/trucking-related businesses clustered around them are bustling, and the busy retail corridor in the heart of the city attracts not only travelers but customers from surrounding communities, as well.

However, the third face of Richland is not so apparent. Just a few blocks off either side of Highway 49 are the city’s residents, those who not only shop and/or work in the community of approximately 7,000 residents, but also call it home.

Richland officials’ focus now is to grow a sense of community spirit among those residents, and they say so right on the website (www.richlandms.org) with the motto “Proud to Call it Home.”

That is why last week the mayor, aldermen and representatives of practically every major city department were on hand for the grand opening of the Drip Drop Coffee Shop, which offers not only coffee and food, but also a place for the community to gather and support local artists and musicians.

Alderman Clay Burns said Drip Drop adds to the “impression” of Richland — that it is more than just a community strung out along a couple of miles of Highway 49.

Mayor Mark  Scarborough says landing more businesses like Drip Drop Coffee Shop is Richland’s key to success.

Mayor Mark Scarborough agrees, adding that recruiting businesses like Drip Drop is “the key to our success.”

In addition to Drip Drop Coffee Shop, Scarborough, Burns and other leaders have other new developments inside the city that are aimed at serving the Richland’s residents.

> See related story on Drip Drop Coffee Shop <

For instance, the city is building a new, much larger police station just behind the library on a new road off of Scarbrough Street, the city’s “main street.” Signs line the new road, advertising new available commercial space. Any businesses locating there would represent the first brand-new development along Scarbrough Street in many years.

The city has also executed an adaptive reuse of big-box space that offers new health care-related businesses on Scarbrough Street. Once the home of the Winn-Dixie grocery store, Polk’s Drugs, a long-time Richland business, moved across the street into the space, which now also includes Medical Associates of Richland, Richland Primary Care, Polk Dental and Performance Rehab. Before this development, Richland offered little in medical-related services, forcing residents to go to Jackson or Flowood for much of their health care needs

The newest tenant in that space is Dickey’s Barbecue, which opened just a month ago.

There are also new businesses being built around town that will serve local residents. These include a new Gateway Tire store and Net Auto car dealership, which are going up near the new Hampton Inn that is slated for opening this summer.

For communities of Richland’s size, economic development is usually a series “small victories,” and Drip Drop is a good example. When owners Chris and Darron Hinton first looked at the space in the strip mall on Highway 49 to locate their business, they realized they didn’t need the entire space. So, the owner of the property, Conrad Martin, agreed to split the space, giving part of it to the pre-existing business The Crawfish King, Seafood and Catering. The owners of The Crawfish King converted that area into the business’ first-ever dining space.

Mike Ray, the manager of The Crawfish King, said now Martin is exploring the idea of purchasing an adjacent piece of property and building a outdoor patio where customers of The Crawfish King, Drip Drop and other businesses in the strip mall can gather.


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About Wally Northway