Posted on Jun 20, 2018
President Paula Brahan presided over today’s meeting. Mark Killingsworth gave today’s invocation and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Freddy Walter announced that Dawson Mallory has been nominated to receive the RYLA scholarship from our club this year. Freddy says he is an outstanding young man who made a 33 on his ACT.
Shane Germany then introduced today’s guest speaker, Andrea Saffle. Andrea is the Executive Director for Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association (HHDA).
Our thanks to Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association Executive Director, Andrea Saffle, for providing our program Tuesday!
Andrea is pictured here with Hattiesburg Club President, Paula Brahan, and Shane Germany.
HHDA is a Main Street Program with the task of the revitalization of the city’s downtown area. There are two primary areas of focus that HHDA concentrates on. One is economic development and the second is design. The association works with existing and new downtown businesses helping them move through issues associated with making investments in their businesses and their properties.
The new overhead string lighting project is the latest accomplishment in the design area. That project is scheduled to increase throughout the downtown area. Additionally, new signage is being developed and will be placed strategically throughout downtown. The signs will be designed to assist visitors in finding features, parking, and scheduled events.
HHDA is working on a downtown conservation district. The process includes an inventory of all existing buildings. Andrea says, once acquired, the conservation district will provide local protection to property owners and should help protect their property values in the coming years. According to Andrea, Hattiesburg is the third most visited city in the state. We have a long and rich history and HHDA is working on a variety of ways to bring focus to our history and features.
2017 was the association’s most successful year to date, according to Andrea. Downtown hosted or assisted in 150 events. Nine new businesses were opened that year and an almost 5 million dollar investment throughout downtown created 52 new jobs.
Downtown currently has 100 residential units. Regions bank is relocating to a new facility in Lamar County which will open three downtown buildings for renovation. The new owner of the three buildings is planning to add 100 additional residential spaces to the downtown landscape. Andrea says that will drive an increase in retail to the downtown area. Parking downtown is still a challenge and will continue to be until Regions relocates. They currently lease a large number of downtown parking spaces.
Saffle says she expects the Mid-Town development to also help downtown grow. The development will create an interest in new visitors who will also be encouraged to visit downtown and the many events and features offered.
The Long Leaf Trace is the largest attraction that is bringing visitors from all over the country and some internationally to our area. New sections of the Trace continue to be opened and lighting improvements will continue. Andrea noted that a spur from Hall Street toward William Carey University was recently opened. A new section will be added tying the train depot to Southern Prohibition.
The age-restricted residential development in the Old Hattiesburg High School is still a viable project. Saffle says because of changes in the federal budget and funding opportunities the project was stalled for a few months but is regaining momentum.
Andrea encouraged everyone to attend the Star Spangled Celebration on the River. It is the first time the city has been involved in a Fourth of July fireworks celebration. The event takes place on July 3rd from 5:00 until 10:00 pm. It will be held at Hattiesburg’s Chain Park and the Petal River Park. The fireworks will begin at 9:00 p.m. Admission is free. There will be live music and food and beverage available for purchase.
Find out more about what to do and what’s going on downtown by visiting You can also follow HHDA’s Facebook page @Downtownhattiesburg. Andrea also suggested that you sign up for weekly emails that will keep you updated on events, festivals and downtown opportunities.
With no other business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned by Paula with our motto, “Service Above Self.”