With deep roots in arts, culture, and history, Vicksburg is a thriving community situated on the Mississippi River boasting vibrant experiences for residents and visitors— from fine dining, specialty shopping, and year-round festivals and events to beautiful historic homes, museums, and art galleries.
“Vicksburg is not the kind of town you can visit without feeling the historic energy,” says Kim Hopkins, executive director of the Vicksburg Main Street Program.
“It’s around every corner, down every road, inundating every museum, monument, landmark, and even places you’d least expect to find it.”
In her role with the Vicksburg Main Street Program, Hopkins is tasked with promoting the downtown’s economy through planning, beautification, growing tourism, and building a competitive business market—all while preserving its character and history. “Our downtown tells us who we are, who we were, and how the past has shaped us,” she says. “Downtown is the place of shared memory where people still come together to live, work, and play.”
A graduate of Hinds Community College and Mississippi State University, Hopkins is certified in Preservation Training by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and was named as a Top 10 semi-finalist in 2015 for the Great American Main Street Award. She is also working toward becoming a Main Street America Revitalization Professional, the highest credential achievable through Main Street America Institute.
Guided by a passion for economic development, Hopkins has helped lead a number of projects and events that are helping Vicksburg’s downtown and tourism flourish, such as the Farmers Market Pavilion, walking and bike trails, the 4th of July Extravaganza, the Miss Mississippi Pageant and Parade, and BluzCruz.
With so much to offer, Vicksburg is booming as a destination for tourists. Riverboat cruises alone bring in 30,000 visitors to the city each year. In addition, tourists hail not only from across the United States, but also from Canada, England, Germany, Australia, Mexico, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, and beyond. “We attract an array of tourists for many different (all exciting) reasons,” she says. “We can be described as the gateway to blues music and the epitome of Southern cuisine.”
The business side of the city’s economic development is also flourishing under Hopkins’ leadership, as Vicksburg Main Street has created more than 3,100 jobs and generated more than $150 million in public and private investment. Downtown is experiencing distinct growth, having gone from a 65 percent vacancy rate to only five percent now. Along with this growth, 400 apartments and lofts exist in downtown and 25 small businesses have been established within the last year.
Hopkins credits industry diversity as one of the driving forces behind the success of the local economy, with businesses ranging from casinos and gaming to the world-class laboratories of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Another key to the area’s success is partnerships. “Our city understands teamwork and enjoys the growth and accolades that come with it,” she says. “We work closely with the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, Vicksburg- Warren Chamber of Commerce, Warren County Port Commission, City of Vicksburg, Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation, Vicksburg Convention Center, Warren County Supervisors, Architectural Review Board, Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation, and the Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division, along with numerous other organizations.”
Hopkins also has a personal investment in creating a prosperous Vicksburg. As a wife and mother of two children, she wants to be a part of helping her family’s community reach its fullest potential.
“When people ask me how I like my job, I answer ‘I love it,’” she adds. “I am proud to be a part of Vicksburg’s future!”