Renovations and Other Efforts to Build a Better Jackson | Jackson Free Press

Despite the setbacks that this year’s pandemic has wrought, the Jackson metro continues to persevere and move forward, making progress all the while. Check out these updates on some of what has been going on in these last few months.

Crowdfunding Effort for Russell C. Davis Planetarium

Jackson’s Russell C. Davis Planetarium, which is currently undergoing restoration due to a roof leak and resulting interior damage that forced it to close in April 2018, opened a crowdfunding page in October to support the renovation effort.

The renovation is the first overhaul the City of Jackson has undertaken on the building in 40 years. The City plans to reopen the planetarium by April 2022.

Planned updates to the planetarium include a new reception area and common space, augmented-reality exhibits and virtual-reality spacewalks, a large video wall, an expanded gift shop, a lunar landing-site exhibit and new programs and events such as a Virtual Summer Camp that teaches STEAM—science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics—subjects.

The planetarium’s crowdfunding campaign allows for contributions of $10, $35, $60, $75, $125 and $350, each of which comes with successive tiered rewards and merchandise from the planetarium. Each higher-tier reward includes all items from the lower tiers as well.

For more information on renovation 
of the planetarium or to donate to the crowdfunding effort, visit

Hilton Garden Inn Completes Renovations

In October, the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Jackson finished extensive renovations to its meeting and event space, guest rooms, lobby, restaurant and bar, and fitness center.

Formerly known as the King Edward Hotel, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Reopening as the Hilton Garden Inn in July 2020, the hotel contains meeting rooms capable of hosting groups of up to 300, which received new carpeting, lighting and window treatments as part of the renovations. The hotel’s venue space also expanded to include a multi-function room on the ground floor.

The hotel’s lobby now contains The Shop, a newly opened all-hours market with snacks, sandwiches, cold beverages and more. The renovated guest rooms have new carpeting, wall coverings, window treatments, seating upholsteries, light fixtures and televisions.

King Edward Bar and Grille, the 
hotel’s bar and restaurant, upgraded its buffet area and added large-screen televisions in the bar. The restaurant serves made-to-order breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a selection of craft cocktails, wine and beer.

The hotel also offers complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the property, 24-hour fitness and business centers, valet parking service, and an indoor pool and whirlpool.

For information, call 601-353-5464.

Visit Jackson Supports Jackson Restaurant Delivery

In light of decreased revenues due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Visit Jackson and Downtown Jackson Partners partnered this October with Mississippi Delivery, a local company established in 2020 that supports other local businesses.

The strategy is to negotiate a lower commission rate for Jackson restaurants to provide a low-cost restaurant delivery 
option on top of existing takeout and curbside options.

The program is available to restaurants in zip codes 39201, 39202, 39204, 39206, 39211, 39213 and 39216.

City of Jackson 
Launches Connect JXN

The City of Jackson and partner organizations launched a series of virtual town-hall events in September called Connect JXN. The town halls are part of a year-long effort to hear directly from residents about their vision for the city in the next two decades, a release from Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba’s office says.

During a virtual town hall, community members receive an overview of a project and learn more about the public engagement process. They can also give input via a project survey with the goal of receiving responses from a minimum of 5% of the population from each municipal ward.

Survey responses and focus group feedback will serve as the city’s 20-25 year guiding framework for future growth and development, the release says. Key objectives of the plan include land use, zoning decisions, transportation plans, maps and policy recommendations.

The Central Mississippi Planning and Development District is leading the Connect JXN project.

One Voice is leading the public engagement process in partnership with Jackson State University Mississippi Urban Research Center and the City of Jackson Planning Commission.

For more information, visit

All State Libraries to Receive Fiber Internet

The Mississippi Library Commission launched a project in October to make fiber internet available to every library in the state by 2021 through a contract between CSpire and the Department of Information Technology Services. The arrangement will allow public libraries in the state to have higher internet speeds at lower prices.

In preparation for the switch, MLC staff and other state agency representatives are meeting each week to prepare libraries’ systems for migration. When the project is complete, public libraries should see an increase in bandwidth speeds to a minimum of 100 MBps, a release from MLC says.

For more information, call 601-432-4111 or visit

Mississippi Public Broadcasting Launches MPB Classroom TV

Mississippi Public Broadcasting partnered with the Mississippi Department of Education in October to create a new television channel called MPB Classroom TV, which airs on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 
8:30 p.m.

MPB Classroom TV provides instructional content to pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students. The channel includes pre-recorded 25-minute lessons from certified teachers aligned to the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards.

Viewers do not need internet at home to watch MPB Classroom TV, but the channel is not available on cable and satellite services. To receive and watch the channel, viewers must use an antenna on their televisions. Cable and satellite subscribers will need to purchase a low-cost antenna and change the television’s input setting. Those who only use antennas will need to rescan their televisions to pick up the new channel.

Content is available for on-demand viewing on the MPB Classroom TV web page as well as MPB’s YouTube channel under the MPB Classroom TV playlist.

For more information, visit

Innovate Mississippi’s
Emerging Solutions Project

Innovate Mississippi and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in September launched the “Emerging Solutions” project, which aims to hear ideas from Mississippians about how technology or other new products or services could help Mississippi better respond to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The nonprofit plans to use the ideas to help develop new products to deploy within the state and to help create new Mississippi-based businesses and jobs to aid people after the pandemic.

Anyone with an idea they wish to discuss with the Innovate Mississippi team can visit and fill out a contact form with their information and basic idea.

Innovate will contact idea creators for more in-depth discussions on their ideas.

For more information, you can call 
601-960-3611 or visit


Medical Institutions Launch Flu Fighters Coalition

The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, the Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians, the Mississippi Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics, the Mississippi Hospital Association, the Mississippi Nurses Association, the Mississippi State Department of Health and the Mississippi State Medical Association in September partnered to form a coalition called Flu Fighters, which seeks to encourage all Mississippians to get their flu shot in 2020.

Even though the flu shot does not protect against COVID-19, it can help keep Mississippians healthier and mitigate hospitalizations during the pandemic, a release from the coalition says. The most recent flu season saw more than half a million hospitalizations, and hospitals, especially in Mississippi, have been severely overburdened during the pandemic.

Getting a flu shot reduces the risk of being admitted to the ICU with the flu by 82%, the CDC says. Flu shots are available at hospitals, health-care providers’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, schools, college health centers and from many employers.

To find a flu-shot provider in your area, visit

Follow the Flu Fighters coalition on social media with the #FightFluMS hashtag.

Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area Home Build

Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area celebrated the construction of its 650th house on Wednesday, Nov. 18. The build was the 13th home that Nissan-Canton helped fund construction for.

Located at 4644 Meadow Ridge Drive, the home features an open plan with four bedrooms and two bathrooms, a release from HFHMCA says.

The homeowners are Twanza Payne and JaMichael Sanders and their four children, who were previously living with relatives before the build, the release says.

The build is part of the Broadmoor neighborhood revitalization initiative that HFHMCA launched in 2019.

The Broadmoor revitalization will impact 100 houses in the neighborhood over five years, whether the organization rebuilds or demolishes them. Habitat is selling all of the revitalized homes in the Broadmoor neighborhood based on a 30-year, zero-interest mortgage for each owner.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Nissan-Canton was unable to put employees on-site to volunteer as it has with previous builds. However, Nissan-Canton donated funding for the construction of the home and donated four Nissan vehicles to HFHMCA to support its efforts.

For more information on HFHMCA, call 601-353-6060 or visit

Send news regarding new developments and business announcements in the metro to [email protected].