Officials from the City of Laurel, the Jones County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Authority, the Jones County Board of Supervisors and the Laurel Housing Authority broke ground on the Laurel-Jones County Welcome Center on Thursday August 4, 2022 at 9 a.m. Vice Chairman of the Laurel Housing Authority Board George Carter delivered the invocation.
The welcome center is the result of a partnership between the Laurel Housing Authority, the City of Laurel, the Economic Development Authority of Jones County, the Jones County Board of Supervisors, Laurel Main Street, and the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.
It will be located inside of a former housing unit which is located on Leontyne Price Blvd. at the I-59 Exit 95C.
Laurel architect Michael McKinnon completed the design for the center which will feature a replica of the housing units as they were when they were first constructed and will house a welcome center to provide historical and tourism information for guests.
Alrick Young, Executive Director of the Laurel Housing Authority provided the opening remarks for the groundbreaking ceremony. Young thanked the “many parties working together” to bring about the center and provided a brief overview of the center’s features. Once completed, the center will be fully accessible and will be restored to its original look from 1940 including copper awnings over the doorways.
“Its good to see a plan come together,” Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee said. “A lot of people are coming to our city,” he explained. The increase in visitors has highlighted the need for tourism information and assistance. This need was recognized by many in the city including those at the Laurel Housing Authority. “Like so many other things in the city, they came through,” Magee said of Alrick Young and Felicia Jackson of the Laurel Housing Authority. Magee thanked the LHA for their creative problem-solving and thanked other members of the community as well as the area’s elected officials for their support. He stated that the city is “proud to be a part of it and look for some great things coming from this building.”
Johnny Burnette, President of the Jones County Board of Supervisors called the spot the “a gate to the city of Laurel and a gate to Jones County.” He also thanked everyone who had participated in creating the welcome center, especially State Senator Juan Barnett.
Ross Tucker, President of the Economic Development Authority of Jones County, also offered his thanks stating that it had been “a pleasure to work with a select group of people to help brainstorm this idea.” He especially wanted to recognize George Bassi, Director of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, for being a cheerleader for tourism in Laurel.
It is expected that the Laurel/ Jones County Welcome Center will be completed within the next 9-10 months. For more photos from the event, visit us on Instagram at laurel_ms.