Hattiesburg, MS Transportation Assets Boost Economic Activity

By Michaela Jackson on May 4, 2011 at 7:13 pm EST
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PHOTO CREDIT: Brian McCord

H-98. I-59. H-49. H-42. Bingo!

But we’re not talking about filling up your card at the local community center. These letters and numbers spell out one key to Hattiesburg's economic success. 

Greater Hattiesburg sits in the southeast corner of the state – smack in the middle of what looks like a large wheel with several long spokes.

An extensive transportation network crisscrosses the region. Interstate 59 and Highways 98, 49 and 42 all pass through Hattiesburg, one of the reasons for its “Hub City” moniker.

“I think our location puts us in a unique situation,” says Annie McMillan, vice president for community development at the Hattiesburg Area Development Partnership. “When you’re talking about shipping long distance, you want something that’s cost effective for that business or industry.”

In this department, Hattiesburg does not disappoint. Nine third-party, multi-terminal ground transportation firms, including FedEx Ground, National Freight and Baldwin Transfer Co., serve the area.

Ground shipping is simplified for companies by the region’s proximity to markets such as New Orleans, Mobile and Jackson (all within a two-hour drive).

The options for business transport extend far beyond roadways. Three Class 1 rail lines serve the region: Canadian, Kansas City Southern and Norfolk Southern. Highways and rail also connect Hattiesburg easily to four major ports along the Gulf of Mexico.

“Hattiesburg is in a prime location, and we’re positioned so that we can serve our companies, helping them better serve the people that they need to get their products to,” McMillan says. “That’s very vital to the work that we do in locating industry to the area or expanding existing industry.”

A vibrant aviation community also serves the area. Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport offers both general aviation and commercial passenger service by Delta.

Hattiesburg-Bobby L. Chain Municipal Airport has been the city’s general aviation airport for 75 years.

Many companies in the area use the airport’s facilities as a home base from which to travel around the region on business.

“The airport plays a major role in economic development by affording those people wishing to locate a business in this area the opportunity to fly as close to their location as possible,” says Chip Gibson, manager at Southeast Aviation, which handles refueling and hangar services at the airport.

Hattiesburg-Bobby L. Chain, which is owned by the city, is continually improving and expanding. The most recent project was a new hangar for aircraft storage.

“Many of the business that are located in Hattiesburg’s industrial park have corporate aircraft. They fly the aircraft in with personnel and conduct business, and it allows them to return home the same day. I truly feel that if they did not have that ability, they might not even look at Hattiesburg as a viable option,” Gibson says. “The airport plays a tremendous role in both the recruitment of new businesses and the retention of existing businesses.”

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