After Five Years, USM’s Lott Center Nearly Complete

Fri December 25, 2009 - Southeast Edition
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) A University of Southern Mississippi building named in honor of former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott is nearly complete after being under construction for five years.

“I think in late January, early February, we’ll be ready to give the go-ahead,’’ said Chad Driskell, USM executive assistant to the president for external affairs

An electrical system check by engineers and building furnishings are among the items remaining to be completed at the Trent Lott National Center of Excellence for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship.

The building will house the Department of Economic and Workforce Development; Center for Logistics, Trade and Transportation; National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security and the Office of Advancement and USM Foundation offices

Construction began in 2004, but moved slowly because of funding shortages.

When President Martha Saunders took over in 2007, only the first floor and exterior were completed after three years of construction

Driskell said he worked with the state Legislature to get necessary state funding to complete the $28 million building.

In 2004, when the project began under then-USM President Shelby Thames, the estimated cost was $22.8 million, a figure that didn’t include architectural design. Higher post-Hurricane Katrina construction costs are among the reasons the final price tag increased, said physical plant director Rusty Postlewate.