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Hardin grant a giant step' for Riley Center

By Staff
From staff reports
Dec. 18, 2001
A $2.5 million grant from the Phil Hardin Foundation will be a "giant step" toward making the Riley Education and Performing Arts Center in downtown Meridian a reality.
The grant, the largest in the history of the Phil Hardin Foundation, was expected to be announced at a news conference today at Mississippi State University-Meridian Campus.
MSU officials have raised $4.2 million so far of the local commitment. The $2.5 million Hardin grant will fund an endowment for the operation of the Riley Center, which will be located in the Grand Opera House and Marks-Rothenberg Building.
Portera, who will be leaving MSU at the end of the year, spearheaded efforts to assemble a $19 million public-private funding package for construction of the Riley Center.
The Hardin gift will be divided three ways:
The Grand Opera House of Mississippi Inc. earlier this year transferred title to the historic property to MSU. Restoration of the Grand Opera House is viewed as key to revitalizing downtown Meridian.
Architectural designs for the planned renovations should be complete within a year, and construction will take two to three years, according to project coordinator Bev. Norment, special assistant to the MSU president.