The Fondren Association of Businesses’ (FAB) annual meeting was held last night at Duling Hall with exciting news coming for the neighborhood.

Dr. David Powe, Chief Administrative Officer for University of Mississippi Medical Center spoke of an improved partnership he hopes his organization can create with Fondren. “We want to eliminate the fences,” he said “and blend in. You won’t know where our campus stops and the neighborhood begins.”

Powe went on to say the Mississippi Medical Corridor now in the works through a 50 member partnership can only strengthen the overall community. “As the master plan comes about, you all will be part of this destination (for medical care and medical research).”

Another major piece of news to come from the meeting: the plan to move Fondren’s annual Arts, Eats & Beats from mid-April to March 22. FAB president David Waugh said, in cooperation with the Fondren Renaissance Foundation, the thinking is to help consolidate the efforts of merchants and organizers to have one big blowout weekend rather than spreading it out – and spreading merchants thin.

That weekend, of course, is attached to the second annual Zippity Doo Dah parade and festivities to be held March 22-25. But before spring, there’s Fondren Unwrapped on November 17, another event spoken of with hints of surprise. “Our new neighbor may provide a band,” FRF Executive Director Jim Wilkirson said of JSU, new owners of Veteran’s Memorial Stadium.

Jackson Police Precinct 4 Commander Wendall Watts was lauded for a number of major arrests despite the fact that he is short staffed. FAB board member David Byrd wondered, with a 20% decrease in manpower, how could Watts accomplish this? Nevertheless, he has, and was later recognized in the meeting with the Friend of Fondren Award.

In other news from the City, the much awaited federal grant of nearly $2.5 million is said to be put into action “within 30-45 days” according to project engineers, Neel-Schaffer. The money will be used to fix broken sidewalks, make those sidewalks ADA accessible and improve lighting and landscaping within the central business district.

In the final part of the meeting, awards were given by FAB to several individuals recognized for their outstanding contributions to the district. You can see a photo of those award winners and learn more about their efforts here.

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