Meridian is in Lauderdale County and is the sixth largest city in the state of Mississippi, with a population just nearly 40,000. The city has deep roots in the railroading industry including its rebuilt Amtrak station, which averages about a quarter-million passengers per year.
Meridian is home to Peavey Electronics Corporation along with Avery Dennison, Structural Steel Services, Sarah Lee and Southern Pipe and Supply Company. Additionally there are two military facilities, Naval Air Station Meridian and Key Field and four industrial parks.
Meridian and its citizens have contributed mightily to the culture and the art around the city. The Grand Opera House of Meridian was built in 1889, but closed in the 1930s due to the Great Depression. Although the building stood abandoned for nearly 70 years, a grant in 2000 allowing for major renovations enabled the Opera House to re-open in 2006 under the name "Mississippi State University Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts." The Riley Center includes a 950-seat auditorium, a 200-seat theater and 30,000 square feet of meeting space. The Riley Center attracts more than 60,000 visitors annually for conferences, meetings and performances.
The Meridian Little Theater was built in 1932 and entertains more than 22,000 people per season, making it Mississippi's largest community theatre. The Meridian Museum of Art opened in 1970 and serves as the region's premier public museum. A variety of rotating exhibits are hosted at the museum each year including sculptures, artifacts, photographs and traditional decorative art covering various time periods.
A triumvirate of hospitals, Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center, The Rush Hospital and The Riley Hospital, provides Meridian residents with multiple top-notch medical facilities.
Mississippi State University features a Meridian Campus, which was established in 1972. The 26-acre campus is located at the intersection of Highway 19 and College Drive and serves more than 800 students. Meridian Community College (MCC) is a 2-year college, founded in 1937. Approximately 4,000 students attend MCC, which sits on 72-acres and is right next to the aforementioned MSU Meridian Campus. The MCC Eagles have a strong athletic history, boasting two current NBA players (Ronald "Flip" Murray and Jamario Moon).
There are several recreational parks, memorials and outdoor festivals. Highland Park is home to the Dentzel Carousel, a National Historic Landmark, which has been in operation since 1909.
Since 1992, Meridian has been the host site of the State Games of Mississippi-- the state's largest annual amateur multi-sport event. Nearly 5,000 athletes from 300 Mississippi cities compete against each other in 27 sports.
Notable Meridian residents include: Sela Ward (actress), Derrick McKey (NBA basketball player), Jay Powell (MLB baseball player), Diane Ladd (actress), Hartley Peavey (Peavey Electronics), Al Wilson (musician) and Jimmie Rodgers (country music singer) just to name a few.