Public Private Partnership creates Madison County Health Care Zone, Affordable Housing

Canton, MS – In 2012, the Mississippi Governor’s office released a strategic plan titled Blueprint Mississippi Health Care: An Economic Driver. This is a state sponsored strategic plan to “expand the economic asset of healthcare” within the state. In order to effectively implement Blueprint Mississippi legislation was needed. The Mississippi Health Care Industry Zone Act was signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant in 2012.

The legislation creates a business incentive program, known as the Mississippi Health Care Industry Zone Incentive Program, to encourage health care-related businesses to locate or expand within a qualified Health Care Zone in the state. The program is administered by the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) and is designed to provide incentives to qualified applicants of new healthcare related projects within the State of Mississippi. To qualify for assistance in this program, health care-related businesses must commit to creating at least 25 full-time jobs and/or invest $10 million. Following the legislation, the Mississippi Home Corporation (MHC), an agency tasked with maintaining and creating affordable housing, added at the request of the Governor additional selection points to projects located within a Health Care Industry Zone with an approved master plan.

“Health Care Zone Master Plans are financed by capital brought to the table by private developers as a result of criteria set up by the Governor’s Office and the Mississippi Home Corporation. Given that AICP certified planners with experience in Mississippi were required to create them, these plans represent a true public private partnership. Heath Care Zone Master Plans will be a blue print for communities to follow and will be a tool for economic development.” Tray Hairston, Counsel & Policy Advisor, Office of Governor Phil Bryant

Thanks to the foresight of the Office of the Governor and MHC, MillCorp Construction came forward willing to commission the planning process in order to better qualify for their next round of affordable housing creating a true public- private partnership. MillCorp had previously developed 178 high quality single family and elderly affordable housing units in the City of Canton through MHC. The upcoming project, if selected by the MHC will bring an additional 40 single-family affordable homes through the lease to own program.

With the help of Madison County and Canton development officials, a group of key stakeholders were identified who were believed to have a high level interest and in a position to give effective input into the design of the Health Care District. The stake holders, picture bellowed, identified existing assets and future opportunities along with guiding the professional planning team. Bob Barber, FAICP of Orion Planning Group and Canizaro, Cawthon, and Davis produced the master plan.

The resulting Madison County Health Care District is designed to facilitate and promote a dynamic, high quality health care industry community, support and promote the development of associated commercial and residential activity and provide a thriving environment where health care industries, consumers, employees and the Canton and Madison County communities may prosper. The district envisions a vibrant mixed-use area that attracts new residents and businesses, establishes enjoyable public spaces, streetscapes, and physical connections between a mix of major medical facilities, offices, commercial areas, health care industries and residences. Madison River Oaks Hospital serves as the center of the health care zone and as the nexus for health care in Madison County.

The City of Canton and Madison County are poised to capitalize on one of the most significant economic development opportunities in the area. The creation of the Madison County Health Care District is envisioned to become a regional destination and economic driver. City of Canton’s Mayor Arnel Bolden also sees the full potential of the health care zone, aligning closing with his seven point plan to move the City of Canton forward.

“The zone has the potential to attract not only the healthcare industry, but also health care providers and workforce training, a critical component of my plan for the City of Canton. I see an opportunity within this zone to really focus on creating a healthier Canton through healthcare, education, and recreation.” Mayor Arnel Bolden, City of Canton.

On August 15th, Mayor Bolden and Tim Coursey of the Madison County Economic Development Authority, will be presenting on behalf of the health care zone at the Governor’s Health Care Economic Development Summit as part of an economic development magnifier highlighting the public private partnership that allowed this planning process to occur quickly, efficiently, and at no cost to the tax payers.

To view the full plan, visit

Article By Jordan Hillman