CBS shines spotlight on booming Biloxi

A national television audience of more than 2 million was told in a 6½-minute segment this morning on the CBS “Early Show” that Biloxi has overcome man-made and natural disasters and the community is booming again

“This was great not only for Biloxi, but for the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast,” said Mayor A.J. Holloway, who had briefed CBS producers during their visit to Biloxi. “It’s the type of coverage that’s great in terms of tourism and all types of development.”

The segment featured Brent Pierotich discussing his family’s decision to rebuild its third generation landmark Sharkheads souvenir shop, part of the burgeoning development on west beach in Biloxi; city Community Development Director Jerry Creel touting the $44 million Margaritaville Casino construction site in east Biloxi and development throughout the city; and a live interview with Gov. Haley Barbour, who described Biloxi as “a wonderful, world-class destination resort” and the residents of the Gulf Coast as “strong, tough, resilient, self-reliant people.”

The gist of the story, however, was growth.

“It’s not so much the number of projects here that’s striking,” CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann. “It’s their size and value, roughly $300 million worth since late last year. That’s almost triple the value of new construction Biloxi has seen each year during this recession.”

In all, Biloxi has seen more than $834 million in new construction — $117.9 million in new residential and $716 million in commercial.

Strassmann said Biloxi has something so many cities across the country are looking for: “dozens of ongoing projects with more developers applying for building permits every week.”

Creel and Barbour said the freeing up of credit for developers has fueled the growth. “The projects we’re looking at have the funding approved before they come into our office,” Creel said. “That’s the biggest difference between this year and last year.”

And, correspondent Strassmann said, there’s something else: “People’s confidence is back, a bit of the old swagger. People here have a sense that, just maybe, they are on a roll again.”

See it for yourself: To see the story as it aired on CBS this morning, click here.

Reeg gushes over Biloxi

The CBS report was only part of the boasting about Biloxi on national TV this morning.

TV fixture Regis Philbin, who appeared at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Biloxi over the weekend, had good things to say about his Biloxi visit when he returned to his nationally syndicated “Live With Regis and Kelly” this morning.

“He was fantastic,” said tourism leader Linda Sekul Hornsby of Biloxi. “He started right at the beginning of the program, and he just kept going and going.

“He said, ‘I just got back from Biloxi, Mississippi, and wow. That place is great. I step out of the plane at the Biloxi airport and the weather, it was 68 degrees.’ He talked about the casinos, the building boom, and he said everybody was so nice.”

Added Hornsby: “You just can’t buy this type of advertising.”