The Lee County Board of Supervisors has awarded a construction bid for the Phase II expansion of the Renasant Center for IDEAS, Tupelo/Lee County’s Regional Business Incubator. The decision was made on Thursday, April 8 to award the construction contract to the lowest bidder, Panola Construction of Batesville, MS. Public bids were received on the Phase II project on Monday, April 5 by the Lee County Board of Supervisors.
“The Lee County Board of Supervisors is pleased to have the Phase II project underway. We look forward to the local opportunities and ideas this new facility will house,” said Darrell Rankin, president of the Lee County Board of Supervisors. The Phase II expansion will include a separate three-story complex of 24,300 square feet at the current location on the southwest corner of Main and Elizabeth Streets in Downtown Tupelo’s Fairpark District. The new phase will add flexible, innovative, business start-up space, with shared conference and training rooms, and will house the CDF staff. The building will also be designed for LEED certification, providing Tupelo’s first LEED certified building in the downtown area.
Half of the $5.4 million project will be funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA), with the other half being funded by Lee County and CDF. Three Rivers Planning & Development District has served as project administrator, working with both entities to oversee the EDA funding process. Lee County was formally awarded funding for the Phase II project in August 2009. Since that time, Lee County and CDF have worked with the project architect, The McCarty Company, to design the new facility.
“Three Rivers is delighted to be a part of the Lee County and CDF team to provide additional space and resources for small and entrepreneurial business,” said Randy Kelley, executive director of Three Rivers Planning & Development District.
“It’s an honor to work with CDF and Lee County officials, and we applaud their commitment to the growth of North MS,” said Richard McCarty, The McCarty Company. “With their decision to pursue sustainable design and LEED certification, this building is indicative of the strong leadership and vision for the future here in Lee County. We are grateful to a part of the project team.”
CDF has operated the existing Renasant Center for IDEAs with great success since 2006, but has identified three service gaps of the existing operation which have helped shape the program and design of the Phase II building. First, additional space is needed that is equipped for greater security and more flexibility to accommodate the needs of prospect technology, research, and development. Second, integrating CDF professional staff will expand available hands-on technical services to current and future business clients. This allows the professional staff working to incubate these businesses to be on-site full time. Third, additional public space for conferences, meetings, and on-site training is needed to increase exposure to small business development and opportunities.
“CDF is excited to begin work on this building for the entire community,” said Chris Rogers, CDF chairman. “The Lee County Center for IDEAs will help us promote business growth within Tupelo and Lee County, as we strive to bring more and better jobs to the area.”