We must be aggressive in our efforts, Gilich says

Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast are not growing as quickly as the rest of the state and the Southeast, and the city needs to move forward with a host of economic development initiatives to stimulate economic growth and fully recover from Katrina and the BP oil spill.

That’s the message from Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich, who on Tuesday updated the City Council on a host of public improvement projects and initiatives designed to foster new business, create jobs, and enhance the city’s attraction for residents and visitors.

Emphasizing the city’s historic and cultural attachment to its waterfront and beautiful seascape, the mayor said, “We have the whole package. It’s a magical place. The city and state must incent investments in public-private partnerships to restore damage caused by the BP oil spill and Katrina.  Biloxi has not yet reached pre-Katrina levels of jobs, hotel rooms and population.  We must stimulate and diversify our economy with new incentives citywide.”

In a two-hour workshop, councilmembers were briefed on on-going projects that covered all areas of the city: efforts to create a new gateway entrance into Keesler at Division Street, new business at Woolmarket I-10 exit, Howard Avenue revitalization, renderings for a possible grocery store and mixed-use development on city-owned property at Caillavet and Division, and sketches of the new Point Cadet Waterfront Enterprise.

Several local investors and developers in the audience expressed interest in the city’s initiatives.  They were optimistic and encouraging about Biloxi’s future and expressed a desire to be part of that future. The city plans to advertise for competitive proposals for private investment in public-private partnerships on projects that involve city-owned land. 

The mayor described the great opportunity for the city and state at Point Cadet on land vacant since Katrina and jointly owned by the city and state. 

“We are working with our partners at USM, DMR, and the Secretary of State’s office to put this beautiful space back into productive public use,” Gilich said. “Since 1992, the western portion of this jointly-owned land has produced millions in casino rent and tax revenues to the state, USM, and the city. This new Point Cadet Waterfront Enterprise will produce a set of family attractions that will multiply those revenues and enhance the public’s traditional enjoyment of the waterfront for fishing and recreation.”

The Point Cadet Waterfront Enterprise is projected to produce 1,000 new jobs and bring to the Coast another million visitors annually. Preliminary plans include a 200,000-square-foot main building with festival marketplace for retail and restaurants, public education and marine research facilities, seafood culinary and cooking school, marine technology workforce training, aquaculture conservation center, and a pavilion for festivals and fishing tournaments. Along the waterfront the project would expand USM’s dock for research vessels and oyster off-loading, build new docks to centralize Biloxi’s charter-boat fishing fleet, and create enhanced public access to the waterfront for fishing and recreation.
See the array of workshop topics 
Photo gallery: Images from the workshop
See the renderings presented Tuesday (10 mb PDF)


News and notes: Council images, Breakfast with the Mayor 

City council images: The Biloxi City Council met Tuesday afternoon at Biloxi City Hall to address a number of agenda items but the topic of the East Biloxi infrastructure was what citizens chose to talk about. To see images from the meeting, click here  

Breakfast with the Mayor:  Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich will review the myriad economic development initiatives across the city Thursday morning during the spring installment of the Biloxi Chamber’s Breakfast with the Mayor. The event, free and open to the public, begins at 8 a.m. at the IP Casino and Resort.