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Gulfport Biloxi, Mississippi Area Has Gone Through A Lot

By Scott A. Sumner
    Southern hospitality, fishing, eco tours, golfing, gambling and  miles of white sand beach. Thats what you can experience on a trip to  Mississippi. The Mississippi Gulf Coast  has 300 holes of  Championship Golf,  24 hour gaming with 11 casinos of world class entertainment, 26 miles of white sand beach and so much history for  you to explore.

     Mississippi has two additional casinos set to open in 2009  including the $700 million Jiffy Buffet Margaretville. Charter  fishing in Mississippi means 200 species to catch. There are 21 golf  course  by Palmer, Davis Love, Jerry Pate, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio and more. Walter Anderson one of  brothers has world class art  exhibits. There is the Mad Potter of Biloxi  for which  famous  architect Frank Geary is designing a new campus at this time. A  $50 
million  expansion to the international gulfport Airport is finished and a $2.4 million parking garage to  provide 1200 spaces is  underway. Also $40 million  of new airport hotels, the Marriott and  Hiltonadding are adding 343 additional rooms. 9  air carriers  provide 12 
cities with direct flights each day. In short there is a lot  happening on the Gulf Coast!
    When  the storm hit 2 12 years ago  we eliminated several blocks  leaving no points of reference.  Since then a tremendous amount of  progress has been made. The casinos can now move inland up to 800  feet and it has improved the campus for this area.  The casinos 
previously had to be on the water.They had the opportunity to not  come back but the casinos are back in operation along with a great  number of condos. Mississippi is open for business! smiles Steve  Martin, Program Manager Mississippi Development  and Tourism. At 
first they thought Mississippi would support 2 or 3 casinos but now  there are 11 with  2 more coming. A small part of the state was  damaged geographically( 15%) but  30% of our income was derived from  this area.
     The Beau Rivage was $800 million and have continued to improve  the property with a $550 million renovation.  There are also two land  based casinos in Philadelphia, Mississippi. We are number three in  the US behind  Las Vegas and Atlantic City, Janice Jones Manan Media 
Relations. The industry started with a splash that reminded of an 18  wheeler in size and you had to pay $10 to enter. We are now the same  quality of Las Vegas.  We have the A list entertainment coming  here.In Natchez, Mississippi a city of 18,000 we have $130 million of 
development coming on including hotels as well as casinos.
    We will have more homes rebuilt as they are waiting on insurance,  grant money and the new regulations as well as having the contactors  to be less busy. The land for the condohotels was purchased before  but now they have to go back to the drawing board to make them 
hurricane resistant to lower their insurance costs, noted Steve  Martin. We have a lot of snowbirds that come from Canada each year including those that came down to help after the storm. They are  vested in our community. We are close to Mobile or New Orleans as 
well. It is a good hub and spoke.What your dollar will buy here is  much more than in the North for those retiring etc.In is unfortunate everything  that happened  with the storm but when 
you have a clean slate to work with the potential is great to  become a tier 1 destination.

    The Canadians came down with 3 battle ships some 25 miles off the coast and were unbelievable helpful during the storm clean up. They  got out in school buses and spread out, some 50 to 60 Canadians to  help, said Bill Holmes, Executive Director of the Gulf Coast 
Convention Centre. We are here every storm as a facility of last  resort. We werent anticipating 7 feet of water in the facility so we  moved everyone to the second floor of the arena. The water came in  and blew out doors and windows. The glass would fall in the centre of  the floor. The eye of the storm was coming just to the west but the  Northeastern quadrant was the hardest hit. The intensity of the wind  and water was very destructive. We had set up for a dinner in the 
convention with white table cloth and had two large sea mammals  floating in amongst them. It was a surreal image.

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