Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Redoing Downtown

The last time that I was in Tupelo, the old fairgrounds on the edge of the downtown was being converted into a mixed use commercial and residential development. The changes that are occurring in that area are dramatic! I was very impressed with the new houses and condos that are being constructed with a new urbanism design. The new commercial buildings are also impressive.

The new Renasant Center for IDEAs (Innovation, Development, Entrepreneurship in Action) is a $4 million business incubator that the Community Development Foundation put together with funding from eight different sources including the TVA, USDA, the county, city and state.

Martha Swindle, Administrative Manager for the Center, gave us a tour of the facility, “Our focus is upon entrepreneurs in the health care, manufacturing, business services and retail industries. We also hope to recruit in some artists.” One of the unusual spaces in the Center is a restaurant space, which is going to be occupied by P. B. Loco, a peanut butter focused deli. I didn’t know that you could have 35 different flavors of peanut butter until I took the tour.

The first tenant in the space is Residence Hospice Care, Inc., owned by Debi Wheeler. She has four full time employees, providing home hospice care in the region.

Tupelo is taking a proactive, positive approach to the development and redevelopment of the town. It is a town on the move!

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