When a new industry comes to town, the financial investment and revitalization that comes with it can be a boon to local economies and residents. But rural regions with deep roots in agriculture and manufacturing may encounter challenges in balancing the character and history of their communities with the development needs of new industry—especially if that new industry is high-tech. The people of Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area, where a new Toyota plant recently opened, face such a challenge.
In a report entitled A Regional Land Use-Transportation Decision Support Tool for Mississippi, Brian Morton, CURS Senior Research Associate and principal investigator of the study, outlines two starkly different development futures for the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area. One projects rapid expansion of the towns of Tupelo and New Albany, both near the plant, which eclipse the region’s smaller towns. The second development pattern envisions more even growth among the regions larger towns: Houston, Pontotoc, New Albany, and Tupelo.
The study team, which also includes John Poros at Mississippi State University and Joe Huegy at North Carolina State University, conducted build-out analyses, prepared renderings of different development visions, and developed an integrated land use – travel demand model to assess the household travel behavior that could be induced by the two hypothetical development scenarios. To learn about the results, including how the models can be used to promote bicycle travel, and to read the full report, visit the Southeastern Transportation Research, Innovation, Development and Education Center based at The University of Florida.