Note: The following is the weekly Wicker Report from Sen. Roger Wicker and is provided by the Senator’s office.
New Projects Stimulate Mississippi’s Growth
Roads, ports, broadband, and rail are the building blocks of a healthy economy. This month, I celebrated groundbreakings at two construction projects in Hattiesburg and in Madison County. The sites I visited represent long-term investments in the growth of our state. They make it easier for parents to drop off their children at school, cheaper for entrepreneurs to start businesses, and faster for first responders to reach those in need.
They also demonstrate what is possible when city, state, and federal officials collaborate. Reps. Mike Ezell and Michael Guest, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and I worked to help these communities secure federal grants to make these projects a reality.
Local Leaders Drive Change
At the ceremony in Hattiesburg, we celebrated progress on the construction of a new overpass. This bridge and a second overpass will spare drivers the long waits they have been enduring at rail crossings. The city and state contributed funding, and I helped them win more than $18 million in federal grants. The mayor, city council, and other community leaders enabled that by making such a strong case to the Department of Transportation. The city originally was awarded $5.4 million, but officials decided to secure additional funding to realize their effort’s full potential. They wrote a proposal so compelling that they won a highly-competitive $13.2 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant.
I also gathered with leaders to kick off the latest stage of the Madison County Reunion Parkway construction. The Mississippi delegation has successfully brought over $10 million in federal investment to supplement state and local funding. The project, which has been years in the making, will connect Madison and Gluckstadt and will open up hundreds of acres of land for new development. We expect the area will continue to grow for decades to come.
Supporting Mississippi Development
These are but two of the latest economic development projects in progress around our state. Federal legislation from the past two years has allowed our airports, military bases, rural towns, and large cities to win grants supporting these efforts.
This year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would bring jobs to our military manufacturers. It also would provide a readiness center for the Southaven National Guard and add improvements to sites including Camp Shelby, Columbus Air Force Base, and Keesler Air Force Base. National security enables economic prosperity, and this NDAA furthers both.
In last year’s CHIPS and Science Act, I fought to bring more funding to technology research at our universities. Mississippi scientists can perform at the same level as those at Ivy League and Silicon Valley schools, but for too long a small handful of institutions in five wealthy states received a disproportionate amount of federal funding.
Through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was backed by the Mississippi Economic Council and the Mississippi Farm Bureau, the state received unprecedented investment to expand our broadband internet coverage. This is crucial to retaining talent in-state and connecting rural areas to healthcare and information.
I backed all of these bills because I saw they could help make Mississippi a better place to live and work, and I will continue to champion these initiatives in Washington.