Ridgeland recognized for building, planning

Ridgeland recognized for building, planning


RIDGELAND — Two separate organizations recognized the city in June for its ability to attract global brands and stimulate economic growth here.

The Building Department was recognized as Building Department of the Year by the Board of Directors of Building Officials Association of Mississippi (BOAM) at the Summer BOAM Conference in June. 

“This award is representative of a team effort,” Bryan Johnson, who leads the division, said. “We all work to support one another.” 

Drew Smith serves as the Ridgeland Building Official and is supported by a team including Scott Swinny, Tally Berry, Robert Ray, Steven Ramsey, Jordan Lohman, Karen Knight, Leslie Thomas, Bayleigh Sears, and Ava Murphy. The Building Department operates in the Community Development Division and is led by Johnson under the direction of the Public Works Director Alan Hart.

This award recognizes the extraordinary performance of the entire department and is based on several factors, including, but not limited to, the number of permits issued, the monetary amount of permits issued, and the efficiency of the inspectors.  

“I’m grateful for the commitment this team has to fulfilling the mission of the Department as established by the Mayor and Board,” Hart said. “This Department is a major component of Economic Development, which has supported the growth we have enjoyed for many years.”  

The city of Ridgeland managed more than $102 million in building permits between June 2023 and May 2024.  

The award also recognizes leadership in the profession and is chosen by a group of peers in the association.

“I am very proud of the men and women in the Building Department and what they do to make Ridgeland a place where people want to be,’ Ridgeland Mayor Gene F. McGee said. “This team works hard to provide the safety of our residents and visitors and protect property values by enforcing the Building Codes and Ordinances.”

Hart presented this award to the building department at the Tuesday, July 2, city board meeting. Hart said he was proud to present the Building Department with the award.

McGee presented Hart with another award, the Public Works Award for cities with a population of over 10,000 residents, at the 93rd annual meeting of the Mississippi Municipal League as one of its Municipal Excellence Awards.

A release from MML specifically names the improvements made to the South Highland Colony Parkway that helped the city attract a number of new and expanding businesses to the city including Amazon Web Services which was part of the largest economic development project in the state's history, among other important economic development projects in the vicinity. 

“The City of Ridgeland planned and made significant infrastructure investments to the southern end of Highland Colony Parkway. As a result, the City of Ridgeland landed Southern Beverage and Amazon Web Services,” MML said in a statement. “The planning of this project called for an innovative way to rehabilitate the street infrastructure.” 

MML goes on to note that a team of engineers planned a solution to make point repairs to the street base using geotextile fabrics and limestone to quickly stabilize each failed area. Profile milling was performed to create a level surface to lay new asphalt on top of the old road and repaired base, increasing the structural capacity of the road to support 80,000 pound loads, which was necessary to support the truck traffic associated with Southern Beverage, a $30,000,000 investment in Ridgeland, according to MML. 

“During the same time, the city of Ridgeland set out to improve the water quality and capacity for that area of the city,” MML said. “The unique innovation of this public works project is the complex funding strategy that includes federal, state, and local funding and the speed in which the permit and plans were prepared.” 

The water tank and well project bid has been awarded and will be built prior to the opening of the first phase of the AWS data center. 

“As a result of the innovative strategy to deliver the project, AWS plans to invest $4 billion in what is likely to be the first of several phases that will span multiple years,” MML said. “The Phase I Ridgeland location will be home to 200 new jobs with an average annual wage of $80,000.”

The 93rd Annual MML Conference Award Luncheon was held in Biloxi on June 26. The Excellence Awards program, which began in 1993, recognizes cities that utilize innovative problem-solving, excellence in management, citizen participation, and community partnerships to provide increased services and a better quality of life for its local citizenry.

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