Seventy-five members of the Mississippi Conference of Black Mayors are in Jackson meeting with agencies such as Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. Silbrina Wright is the executive director and says that the focus is on obtaining funding for new infrastructure.
"It is not in the 21st century. Most of our cities are very rural and very out dated as far as infrastructure needs." said Wright.
From water/sewer lines to potholes, Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber says it's a national problem. He declared a state of emergency in March and says it will cost 1.5 billion dollars to fix the capitol city's problems. A commission recently approved using a one percent city sales tax to fund $260 million dollars worth of repairs. He's here looking for more money.
"This infrastructure stuff is what some people have said is the new frontier. So, we see it as being able to impact socially. We see it as an opportunity to impact the city economically, environmentally. So, we don't simply see it as a paving of streets or we don't just see it as redoing water and sewer." said Yarber.
Itta Benna Mayor Thelma Collins is expected to receive two grants as a result of attending the summits. One is for $120,000 to determine the amount of hazardous contamination that needs remediation and $250,000 for plans to revitalize downtown.
"That's with bringing in the Brownfield program, restructuring our downtown area. Those are some of the things we absolutely need." said Collins."
Silbrina Wright says they are looking for sustainable solutions, which takes time.