Hernando Mayor Tom Ferguson thinks the DeSoto County seat has progressed in many ways the past few years and expects more growth in the future.
Ferguson was the speaker at Wednesday morning’s Grits and Government breakfast gathering hosted by the Hernando Main Street Chamber of Chamber of Commerce at the Hampton Inn Hernando.
The mayor admitted it’s been a tough year for the city’s business community working its way through the COVID-19 pandemic but there has been growth through the trying times.
“We had to follow the executive orders and some businesses were not able to stay open for a period of time under the executive orders as not being an essential business,” Ferguson said. “But we are very pleased that we got through it and we were able to add 31 new businesses in the year of 2020 with the pandemic that we had.”
Ferguson’s presentation added that several businesses have also expanded in the past year.
One of the current construction projects underway on the north end of Hernando along U.S. Highway 51 is the Associated Warehouse Grocers, or AWG, distribution center. The massive facility, when finished, will merge operations at its current warehouse on Stateline Road in Southaven and another one in Memphis. It is expected to be fully operational in 2023.
Ferguson pointed out Wednesday morning that the $300 million expansion of AWG’s operations is more than just a warehouse for the city.
“This will add a lot of personal property, computers, machinery, on the inside that will have additional tax dollars to the city, county, and schools,” Ferguson said.
The mayor added two other projects have helped to attract AWG to Hernando. They are the McIngvale Road interchange at I-269 and the McIngvale Road widening and redirection roadwork, both currently underway.
“What made AWG come to life was the McIngvale Road exit off I-269 and McIngvale Road project,” Ferguson said. “That’s really promoting commerce and more people are looking at us right now. The interchange should be done around April and the McIngvale Road should be done in October of 2021.”
Ferguson reminded those attending the breakfast session that progress made on the commercial and industrial side is helping keep property taxes down for those who live in Hernando.
“We’ve added over 120 new businesses since 2018,” the mayor said. “We are a growing and striving community. It takes all to make it work. Industry, commercial, and residential. If not, our residential taxes would be astronomical to make it work.”
Ferguson is now facing a challenge in the April primary as he seeks to continue as Hernando mayor. Former mayor Chip Johnson has filed in his effort to return to the office and both will be slotted as Republicans in the April primary.
Johnson led the city as mayor for 12 years before Ferguson unseated him four years ago. He is currently Vice President of Client Relations for Correctional Counseling Inc., based in Germantown, Tennessee.
The primary could determine the next mayor, as there have been no Democrats filing for the office, as of Wednesday morning. Feb. 5 is the final day to file for the municipal primary.