Facility upgrades will soon be complete
By Jack criss
The Bolivar Bullet
The $7 million-plus renovation and rehabbing of the Bolivar County Expo Center into a bigger, multi-purpose complex with many new amenities is entering the home stretch.
“We’re really just down to a punch list now,” stated Jacorius Liner, District One Supervisor. “Parts, materials, fixtures have been hard to obtain, due to the pandemic, which has slowed down our progress somewhat. We’re finishing up on the parking lot right now with new asphalt which will make it look extremely nice. We’re also going to be installing a new, state-of-the-art sound system inside the facility so people won’t have to haul in their own equipment as used to be the case. It won’t be long now–we hope we’ll be ready to open up within the next 90 days and have a really nice grand opening event.”
Liner added there’s a strong possibility the Center will bring in some new hires, such as a Program Director or Manager, a Facilities Director and perhaps a Marketing Director.
“That’s being discussed,” he said.
Liner was part of a feasibility study team from the Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University that had an early role in researching how Bolivar County could turn the existing Center into a more profitable, viable facility.
County Administrator Will Hooker said that around 2012/2013 the Bolivar County Board of Supervisor authorized him to apply for a USDA Rural Business Cooperative Grant that was duly awarded approximately three years ago.
“The aid of this grant led to a regional market study of Bolivar County and the adjacent counties of Washington, Coahoma and Sunflower to identify the market audience for events to be held at the Bolivar County Expo Center,” said Hooker, referencing the Stennis Institute of Government research mentioned by Liner. “The findings of the regional market study were utilized to develop a market potential feasibility analysis of potential uses for the Expo Center and alternative cost/benefits use scenarios.”
According to Hooker, such scenarios included estimates for building improvements or modification, surrounding land use alternatives and potential additions to existing structures based upon target market needs. Hooker further explained the primary objective of the project is to increase the utilization of the Bolivar County Ag Center and to increase the number of the events hosted.
“Increased utilization will result in increased economic activity throughout the area which, in turn, increases visitation to the Center which generates added revenues to rural business product and service providers,” he said.
“It was determined by the Board of Supervisors after reviewing all of the available data that the Expo Center–with adequate investment–could be a major community asset and economic driver for Bolivar County. The Covid global pandemic has delayed the opening but never halted the continuous work on the project,” he added.
“This new multi-purpose complex will be a tremendous asset to Bolivar County and the entire Delta,” said Hooker. “It will be able to serve a lot more people, and host a lot more events, than we could have ever attempted before. We’re about 90 percent there as far as wrapping up–it’s all downhill from here. The three buildings on premise will be able to be used for a number of events. The arena building, for example, will now have 644 theatre seats within it for shows, speakers and things that we couldn’t have hosted years ago. We’ll also have portable flooring which will allow us to host any event from a concert to a circus to a rodeo. And we added another 3500 square feet to the annex building–our most widely-rented building–which already had 4000 square feet. People will be very impressed,” promised Hooker.
Site/Civil Engineer – Eley Engineering
Contractor: KT Thompson
Arena – 32,965 SF (sprinkler system added)
Annex – 4,000 SF (another 3,500 sf added)
Agriculture Building -23,400 SF
Number of theater seat chairs installed in Arena: 644 Seats