THE PINEY WOODS 195 SOLAR INDUSTRY IN THE PINE BELT The Pine Belt currently has two solar development projects underway. These two $100 million solar farms cover 1,000 acres and are expected to produce 100 megawatts once completed. These facilities will be located in South Hattiesburg in Forrest County and near Sumrall in Lamar County. Both projects will be purchased by Mississippi Power Company when finished. These projects have created hundreds of construction jobs and stimulated the hotel, restaurant, and retail economies in the area. Solar power is continuing to grow in popularity and prices have decreased to a level which is competitive with traditional power sources.. PHOTOS COURTESY OF AREA DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP The Pascagoula River system is one of the longest rivers that remain unimpeded by dams or other impoundments. A portion of Black Creek is designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, and canoes and kayaks full of those seeking the outdoors paddle its waters. Belt. In the 1970s, large indoor shopping malls began to be built around the nation. The Cloverleaf Mall in Hattiesburg and Sawmill Square Mall in Laurel are examples of this movement, where heavy national retail presence is clustered together to attract clients so they could shop under one roof. The Cloverleaf Mall in Hattiesburg, located at the intersection of Highway 49 and Highway 11, opened in 1974 as the region’s first mall. Laurel’s Sawmill Square Mall, an example of economic redevelopment, opened in 1981 on the former site of the Eastman Gardiner Lumber Company. The construction of Turtle Creek Mall in western Hattiesburg in 1994 anchored a process of suburbanization that caused many national chain retailers to locate along the Highway 98 West corridor. The development of the service economy in the region changed work and residential patterns in the late twentieth century. Hattiesburg is the prime example of how a diverse economy drives development in the postindustrial economy of the twenty-first century. With two colleges, two of the region’s largest hospitals, and a multitude of national retail outlets, the Hattiesburg metropolitan area grew steadily. By 2015, Forrest General Hospital was the largest employer in the area, with 3,021 employees. Two other healthcare providers, Hattiesburg Clinic and Wesley Medical Center, employed 2,218, and 1,222, respectively, making the city the health-care nexus of South Mississippi. Institutions of higher education are also driving the development of the local economy; in 2015 the University of Southern Mississippi had a student population of just over 14,500, and William Carey University enrolled some 4,100 students. The two universities combined employ nearly 2,000 area residents. Channel Control Merchants, LLC, a secondary market products company, in its Treasure Hunt and Dirt Cheap retail stores and Hattiesburg distribution center, provides another 600-plus jobs to the local economy. Hattiesburg’s metropolitan development is typical of metropolitan statistical areas around the nation. After 1970, many retail establishments in the Hub City moved to the suburbs. In Hattiesburg, this growth was to the western portions of the