Jennings Art and Technologies Center taking shape

Published 9:47 am Tuesday, November 23, 2021

JENNINGS — A once vacant, dilapidated building in downtown Jennings is on it’s way to being transformed into the new Jennings Art and Technologies Center.

The center, located in an old ATV store directly across from the Jennings City Hall at the corner of North Main and Market Streets, will house office spaces as well as provide state-of-the-art technology for both businesses and students.

“If you look at what we went through in 2020 with working from home and education from home…,” Mayor Henry Guinn said. “To have a place like this, with the technology you need to survive in the 21st century, is really a blessing. Not many communities the size of Jennings can offer this.”

The 7,200-square-foot structure will provide a state-of-the-art computer lab with access to high speed internet. There will also be a conference room with a TV and telecommunication equipment to allow for Zoom and other meetings and a media room with a fax machine, printer and copier. Space will also be provided for tutoring programs, workshops, training and other special programs.

“This is really a boost for the local small business who doesn’t have the financial means to do all these high-end tech conferences or printing shared files,” Guinn said. “This is going to fix a lot of their problems and we are happy to be able to do it.”

The facility will also provide much-needed office and program spaces for the Jeff Davis Arts Council, Zigler Foundation, Zigler Art Museum, Jeff Davis Parish Library and the Jennings Carnegie Library.

“I think this will open up to many other uses besides just arts and technology,” Guinn said. “The multi-use facility will be very beneficial to the community in that the schools, libraries and businesses will all have all access to it.”

Relocating the Zigler museum offices to the new center will also free-up space in City Hall to allow all of the city’s licensing departments to be located on the second floor – including occupational license, permits, water and electrical hook-ups – which will make it more convenient for customers.

The city purchased the building in late 2019 and put a new roof on it, but COVID-19 and two hurricanes delayed the $250,000 renovation project until this summer.

The city used reserve funds, mainly from landfill revenues, to fund the project which is expected to be completed by early next year.

Guinn said the project will also tie-in with the revitalization of the downtown area.

“But to provide the services that this building is going to provide from both an education and technology standpoint, it is much more than curb appeal,” he said.

“Anytime you can take a deplorable structure and find life for it, it means a lot,” he continued. “When businesses want to come into a community, open up and invest private dollars, they want things to be clean, nice and orderly and anytime you can take a dilapidated structure and put it back in use and provide a great service to the community, it’s just amazing.”