Public Finance

City of Meridian


Strong relationships throughout the local communities, uniquely positioned Stephens to successfully market and showcase to investors the project’s importance to downtown Meridian’s growth and development.

Date: 2016
Client: City of Meridian, MS
Amount: $20,000,000
Role: Underwriter
Industry: Lifestyle

Mississippi’s rich history in arts and entertainment will soon be on display at the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience (The MAX), in downtown Meridian. The state-of-the-art facility will showcase Mississippi’s multiple artistic legends and educate visitors on the immense global influence its artists have had on pop culture.

Stephens Inc. served as an underwriter for the 58,000-square foot project, helping the City of Meridian navigate a challenging funding structure. Historically, issuers in the State of Mississippi have relied on either the state-imposed 7% sales tax or property taxes as the sole sources of government financing, as municipalities do not have the ability to impose a local sales tax.

However, in 2005 the Mississippi State Legislature enacted legislation specific to the the City of Meridian that would allow Meridian to impose a special tax equal to two percent of the gross proceeds from the sale of prepared food and beverages from every restaurant citywide. The legislation mandated that the tax could be imposed only if it were approved by 60% of voters in a referendum and that the monies raised would be used solely for the construction of the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience Museum.

A special election was held on August 16, 2016, and nearly 68 percent of voters showed their support for construction of The MAX. The museum will be owned by the State of Mississippi, which has pledged an additional $29 million to the project, and it will be operated by a private non-profit corporation.

In the past five years Stephens Inc. has acted as underwriter on 80 local-option sales tax issues with a par amount of $1,533,510,000. Given the firm’s boots-on- the-ground knowledge of the region and strong relationships throughout the local communities, it was uniquely positioned to successfully market the $20 million bond issue and showcase to investors the project’s importance to downtown Meridian’s growth and development. The MAX is among Stephens Inc.’s growing list of projects in the Southeastern U.S.

The MAX is expected to open in early 2018. It will serve as a testament to the vitality of the City of Meridian and the prominence of the State of Mississippi’s role as a center for arts and entertainment.

(800) 643-9691 | Member NYSE, SIPC

© 2018 Stephens Inc. All rights reserved.