Holloway: Let’s revive the renaissance in Biloxi

Biloxians were in the midst of the most prosperous and promising era in the city’s 300-year history in the decade leading up to Hurricane Katrina, Mayor A.J. Holloway told a packed State of the City audience today, and the city is poised to realize even greater opportunity with its recovery effort.

Holloway, speaking during a Biloxi Bay Chamber-sponsored luncheon at the IP Casino Resort, presented a plan to “Revive the Renaissance” in Biloxi, and he pointed to early tangible signs of the recovery – such as brisk business at the three casino resorts that re-opened in December and significant progress on debris-removal efforts – as indications of a promising future.

“Six months after we endured the most destructive force history has ever seen, and with thousands of our residents still in temporary trailers, I come before you with a familiar but re-assuring message,” Holloway told the audience of more than 500.

“We’re going to continue to make history – on a larger scale than we could have ever imagined. We’ve done it before, and we’re going to do it again. We’re going to do it, to a degree, by remembering our history.”

Holloway announced his appointment of retired Lt. Gen. Clark Griffith of Biloxi to head a committee of residents, business leaders and others to help develop a workable plan for Biloxi’s future. The mayor noted that Griffith had helped successfully guide the city through the BRAC hearings that threatened Keesler Air Force Base.

The Reviving the Renaissance Steering Committee, Holloway said, will be a diverse collection of Biloxians who will review the hundreds of recommendations from the Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal, and, over the next 90 days “spark a public discussion about our future, our past, our strongest assets, and how those three components will be used in the rebuilding of our city.”

Said Holloway, whose 17-minute speech was interrupted five times by applause: “The Governor, to his credit, has done an excellent job leading this state’s recovery. And, to his credit, he says that for our recovery to work, the local communities have a role to play. How our community will look in the future is in our hands, he said, and it’s going to be up to us to go from here. …

“We’re not going to re-invent the wheel. The logical thing to do is to follow the governor’s formula. I want to see a process in which there’s public input toward developing a realistic plan, with a realistic timetable and a realistic price tag.”