By Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)
Local, State, and Federal Collaboration Advances Mississippi
In 2023, Mississippians celebrated progress on many important initiatives. We welcomed developments that created jobs, improved transportation, expanded communication networks, and boosted national security. In Congress, I worked to bring federal resources to these projects.
Yazoo Backwater Plan Finally Unveiled
In May, the government finally announced a solution to a problem that has existed since 1941. For over 80 years, residents of the Yazoo Backwater Area have lived with the threat of flooding. But a new plan will bring certainty to landowners by limiting the flood zone. Those who remain at risk will receive help securing their homes or relocating, and the plan will also protect wildlife, fisheries, and habitats.
Like many in the state, I have long advocated for flood control projects such as the one in the South Delta. We experienced this recent breakthrough at meetings with residents and executive agency officials. Hundreds of average citizens shared their stories of loss and frustration, and the message resonated with the federal representatives. Following up on these meetings, we continued working together, and our efforts led to the plan we have today.
Roads, Rail, and Broadband Build a Vibrant Economy
Another long-awaited dream is now close to reality because new funding was announced for passenger rail service connecting Mobile to New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina gave Amtrak an excuse to end this important transportation alternative in South Mississippi, and I have worked with many community leaders to restore it. The funds were made possible by annual congressional appropriations and the 2021 infrastructure law, which I helped negotiate when I was the senior Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee.
My work in these negotiations also led to a massive investment in Mississippi’s broadband networks. The funding we received will help connect even more of our state to lightning-fast internet.
In 2023, I joined groundbreakings for new bridges and roads at a number of locations across our state. These projects will ease traffic jams and create development potential on hundreds of acres of land.
A road is more than concrete and asphalt, rail is more than train tracks and cross ties, and broadband is more than wires and towers. They all increase tourism, commerce, and economic opportunity. I enthusiastically supported the grants local officials submitted for these initiatives. They demonstrate what is possible when local, state, and federal leaders work together.
Mississippi Defense, Research, and Industry Sectors Collaborate
These projects help make Mississippi an even better place to live and work because they create an ever-expanding cycle of growth. We saw an example of that when we welcomed Ocean Aero to the Gulf Coast. The sea drone vessel company moved hundreds of jobs from California because they recognized that Mississippi is a great place to run a business.
Ocean Aero’s facility sits on the Port of Gulfport, next to the new Wicker Center for Ocean Enterprise, which opened in October. This Center brings together the work our academic researchers, defense officials, and industry leaders were already doing on unmanned maritime systems. The work conducted there will create jobs and benefit fishermen, weather forecasters, and our Navy in its deterrence mission.
As the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I helped write this year’s military legislation. The law recognizes Mississippi’s role in America’s security by investing in our military bases and local defense industry. Clinton High School also opened the state’s first Coast Guard Junior ROTC chapter, the result of a law I authored, which expands the number of Junior ROTC units across America. And when Congress resumes its work after the holidays, I will continue championing legislation to advance more Mississippi priorities.
Note: This article is the weekly “Wicker Report” from Sen. Roger Wicker and is provided by the Senator’s office.