Coast Chamber Focused On Area's Post-Storm Economy - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Coast Chamber Focused On Area's Post-Storm Economy

South Mississippi's business community was in the spotlight Monday during a lunch at Beau Rivage. The Coast Chamber hosted its annual luncheon. During the ceremony, members learned that Katrina wiped out 500 area businesses that had ties to the chamber. But instead of sulking about what was lost, south Mississippi's business community got back on its feet. 

These are scrumptious times for the owners of Burger Burger in Biloxi.

"My business is good," restaurant manager Martha Ebberman said.

Ebberman says her view of south Mississippi's post-Katrina economy looks as good as her Monday red beans and rice special.

"I'm just optimistic, that's all. I think Biloxi has come back just wonderful," she said.

And she's not alone in that belief.

"2007 was a great and busy year," said John Walton.

The outgoing chairman of the Coast Chamber used the same word as Ebberman to describe south Mississippi's economic outlook.

"I would say optimism," he grinned.

The luncheon at Beau Rivage was Walton's final day as head of the chamber. He said that considering everything south Mississippi had been through, business leaders should be encouraged, because their resiliency was driving the coast toward better days. Walton said south Mississippi was on the road back to pre-Katrina business levels because "the spirit of business, and the spirit of the people is taking care of each other, and not waiting on anything else to happen other than just taking responsibility and doing it, getting it done."

Ebberman appreciates that spirit. Her Howard Avenue restaurant was one of the first diners to reopen after the storm. And it's been on a roll ever since.

"I feel right now that the economy is at a high right now, I mean as far as my business goes," she said.

But as she thought about some of the economic concerns facing the coast, and the country, she noted, "I know other people are really concerned about it."

The Coast Chamber is celebrating 20 years as a consolidated organization in Harrison County. Its partners in Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach and Pass Christian have 1,045 members. Nearly 200 of those members jointed the chamber in the past 12 months.

By Brad Kessie

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