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Southern Mississippi College of Business & Economic Development Faculty Conducts Grenada Sports Complex Feasibility Study

Recently, the College of Business and Economic Development collaborated with three departments-Economic Development, Hospitality and Tourism Management, and Sports Management- in working with the city of Grenada on a sports complex feasibly study. Matthew Harrison, the economic developer from Grenada County, stated that after arriving in Grenada, he discovered a vast array of potential community economic development opportunities. These included the central location, Grenada Lake, the many outdoor amenities, the award-winning Dogwoods golf course, and the vast industrial base, all contributed to a firm foundation in developing a new community master plan. One of the community development projects that Harrison felt was important was the creation of a new sports complex as a place for their local community to interact together and potentially attract tournament ball.

Harrison, an alumnus of the MSED program at Southern Miss, reached out to one of his former professors, Dr. Chad Miller, in Economic Development for assistance on the research project. Miller stated that “In today’s economy talent retention and attraction have become the key to economic development. This means developing quality-of-place assets such as sports complexes. Professionals seek places with high-quality schools and activities for their children. Coming out of the University of Southern Mississippi Master of Science in Economic Development Program, Matthew Harrison, Executive Director of the Grenada County Economic Development District, realizes that Grenada needs to compete not just with industrial parks, but with quality-of-life enhancements like the Grenada Sports Complex.”

To finance a new park; the city decided to implement a hotel and restaurant tax that would require a 60% majority vote. Harrison’s team wanted to build support and decided it was best to follow the proper steps in understanding the demand and needs for the region. Harrison knew the experts on staff at his alma mater Southern Miss could provide him with valuable knowledge and the necessary resources including a well-developed feasibility study.

Miller coordinated the project through Dr. Sungsoo Kim, Hospitality and Tourism Management, and Dr. Brandon Allen and Dr. Chris Croft, Sports Management, who teamed up to conduct feasibility for Grenada County. Over the summer, the three researchers collected primary data through intercept surveys and gathered secondary data from a variety of sources to get the final reports written. The result was two reports, Sports Complex Feasibility Study for Grenada County, MS, and Preliminary Economic Impact Study. These reports allowed local leaders to make more informed decisions concerning their investment of a new sports complex. The research team traveled to Grenada County multiple times to conduct research and also recently gave a presentation to community leaders and citizens.

Harrison stated that the feasibility study ultimately became the foundation for their success. “We used the data to build awareness and educate the community about the economic impact, which allowed our support to gain in momentum. The vote was held on October 2nd and passed with a whopping 86%! We could not have had this type of success without the feasibility study prepared by Dr. Sungsoo Kim and his expert team at the USM College of Business and Economic Development." The project was assisted by the Economic Development staff of Dr. Shannon Campbell, Heather Brown, Tasha May, and graduate assistants in technical support and research assistance. This was the first time the three faculty researchers combined their expertise to conduct an applied research project through the Trent Lott National Center.