Planned Jackson Tech District now a $150M project

JXN Tech District
Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 7:03 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - 3 On Your Side was the first to tell you about a successful Jackson native who is now sharing her good fortune with her hometown. Now, we have a progress report on the vision of 36-year-old Dr. Nashlie Sephus and her Jackson Tech Hub project.

Picture, nestled between Jackson State University and downtown Jackson, abandoned buildings transformed into a hub of technology and much more. It’s not a pipe dream.

Since the first report in September 2020, the 12 acre, seven building stretch of Gallatin Street has been cleared and the interior of at least one of the abandoned buildings has been renovated enough for use. It will be the permanent home of The Bean Path, a non-profit STEM program established by Dr. Nashlie Sephus.

Dr. Sephus said, “We have been working, believe me; we have extended our concept plan to include several more phases, including housing. We currently have eight buildings. We’re going to tear down to renovate those six in the first phase, starting with the Albert Van Horn building, which we’re standing in right now, we will also build five or six additional buildings, which will include residential, retail commercial lab space, grocery store, event venue centers.”

The current area where the work is planned.
The current area where the work is planned.(WLBT)

And, she said, much more, but the price tag for all of this has increased since our initial report.

“Yes. So we’ve gone from $25 million project to $150 million development project, because we want to make sure we capitalize on the live work play aspect of the Tech Hub,” said Dr. Sephus.

Keep in mind, Dr. Sephus has already tied up more than a million dollars of her own funds, but she said she’s determined to make it work and that enthusiasm, apparently, is infectious. After making her case for zoning and funding before the Jackson City Council on October 12, she now has a $250,000 commitment from the city for the Tech Hub.

Tray Hairston said, ”My hypothesis is that projects like this projects with a cool factor in it factor, a workforce development component, a project that that enhances the lives of young people, kids, not only from a hands on component, but from a technology standpoint. I just think it has tremendous possibility not only for the city but for the state.”

Also on board now is Jackson attorney Tray Hairston. He said he was moved by the George Floyd murder case and wanted to do something positive. He said it was his wife who introduced him to Dr. Sephus, a friend of hers.

“And so as a result of that conversation, I began to put a proposal together. And I took it to the executive committee, which I’m a member of the executive committee at Butler Snow and I had to recuse myself, but that proposal that I vetted that I thought through all the ins and outs, I took it to the committee, which is comprised of lawyers in Atlanta or Nashville, Birmingham, etc, throughout the firm’s footprint, and all overwhelmingly voted in favor of giving this project that $100,000 pro bono bill credit. And that goes towards all of the development efforts, reviewing legal documents, contracts, drafting the private placement memorandum to go out to the capital market and raise money for the project. So, you know, we’re here, we’re here for the long, long haul. We think this is an amazing opportunity to invest in the city and invest in the state of Mississippi,” said Hairston.

Another milestone in the effort came October 15 and 16, when The Bean Path celebrated its 3rd anniversary.

A planned design for the district.
A planned design for the district.(WLBT)

Dr. Nashlie Sephus said, ”We hope to and we’ve impacted over 250 youth so far. And we want to make sure that we expand that to at least 600 in the next year. We’re also hoping to build jobs at least 400 jobs within the tech district. ”

Dr. Sephus is also helping small businesses and startups with their technology needs, while funding comes together for actual construction, which she expects to begin sometime this fall.

”So we were have a mission to stop the brain drain in Mississippi. People who are educated, whether that’s through a boot camp, or through a college or university or community college, in tech fields, they often find better opportunities outside of the state. But with something like the tech district, Jackson State district, we can build those opportunities right here in the city and expand across the entire state,” said Dr. Sephus.

On November 17, after a rezoning hearing with the city of Jackson, the vote was a unanimous “yes” for going from industrial zoning to urban district along the stretch of Gallatin Street that is becoming the JXN Tech District.

There are more artist renderings of what the Jackson Tech District will look like when it’s completed. You can also meet the team and see some of the sponsors who are on board with the project. Just click here for more information.

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