Recession impacting projects in South Mississippi

By David Elliott - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Financial Markets are in turmoil. America's biggest banks are in trouble. The nation is in the grips of a recession. This national crisis is having a trickle down effect on development projects in South Mississippi.

"It's the ugliest I've ever seen it," Peoples Bank President Chevis Swetman said.

Mike Boudreaux of Gulf Coast Investment Developers, the group responsible for much of the condo development on the coast, has see the credit crunch put the squeeze on numerous projects.

"Banks are not loaning money. We probably have three or four projects on the beach that would get started if the financing was in place," asserts Boudreaux.

In what is probably the biggest work stoppage in South Mississippi history, Casino giant Harrah's has put its $700 million Margaritiville Resort on hold. The Margaritiville construction site is void of activity. A billboard boldly states the resort will open in 2010, but now Harrah's says the development on the south side of Highway 90 is being delayed.

Commercial and residential projects across South Mississippi are struggling to borrow money at a reasonable rate. Chevis Swetman says investors and developers are going to have to change their strategy in the short run.

"They're just going to have to put up more of their own money."

Most experts are bullish on the Mississippi coast's economy, relative to other parts of the country. But still, developers are having trouble getting financing and investors are paralyzed by uncertainty.

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