Mayor reviews projects and Year One of civic, visitors centers

Here is the prepared text of Mayor A.J. Holloway’s presentation to the Biloxi Chamber’s “Breakfast with the Mayor” gathering, on Wednesday, July 18, 2012, at the Vibe restaurant at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Biloxi.

Before I get started, let me tell you something I need to practice. In about two weeks, we’re going to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony to re-open Sharkheads souvenir shop up the beach.

That’s going to give me a chance to say something that my kindergarten teacher tried to teach me to say a few years ago:

“He sells seashells by the seashore.”

Good morning, and thank you for being here. We have a lot going on in our city right now, and I want to tell you a little about it.

Last week, we sent about 400 photos of progress to those of you who get our Bmails.

You saw pictures of infrastructure work in the neighborhoods off Old Bay Road and in the Beverly Hills subdivision.

You saw work on the approaches to the small bridge at the Popp’s Ferry causeway, which leads to the new waterfront promenade.

You saw the hardening of the roof at the fire station next to the Margaret Sherry Memorial Library.

The intersection improvements at the north and south ends of Eisenhower.

The work on the new entrance to the sports complex.

And the work on the boat launches at Forrest Avenue and Kuhn Street; the new Point Cadet fishing bridge; and the commercial harbor, south of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Yes, we do have a lot of work going on, but today I want to talk about a few other milestones we have reached.

It was a year ago this month that we dedicated the Biloxi Visitors Center and the Biloxi Public Library and Civic Center.

We’ve heard a lot of good things about those projects, and they are doing everything we said they would do.

We have had more than 50,000 people go through the doors at the Visitors Center. We had more than 16,644 in the five months of last year, and we’ve had 34,717 visitors so far this year.

We had another 5,700 people attend the 94 functions that have been hosted at the Visitors Center.

These include chamber functions, receptions, weddings, and so forth. We’ve had class reunions, and we even had a New Orleans debutante ball.

A March bride submitted a review on a bridal planning website that gave us a perfect 5-star review.

That’s an impressive building and those are some impressive first-year numbers.

But the story is just as good over at the Civic Center.

More than 16,000 people have attended the 40 functions that have been held at the Civic Center.

We held four carnival balls, five wedding receptions (we even had a wedding), two proms, bridal shows, and the biggest event we’ve had has been mixed martial arts shows.

We’ve had two of them and both have attracted more than 1,600 people each.

Combined, the civic center and the visitors center have taken in more than $120,000 in fees for functions so far this year.

What I’m really excited about is the future.

We already have five carnival balls booked for next year, three proms, and we have two huge events moving in next year – the Governor’s Gulf Coast Job Fair and Chefs of the Coast.

If you haven’t been down to the visitors center, you need to see the beautiful exhibits and the view from that second floor front porch.

And if you haven’t been to an event at the civic center, well, where have you been?

That’s about all of the time I have for remarks this morning.