Long Beach roadwork impacts downtown commerce

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Merchants in downtown Long Beach have a message to share with the public: We're still open for business.

Ongoing construction work on Jeff Davis Avenue is making it harder for customers to visit retailers downtown. But business owners are doing a little "extra marketing" to stay busy during the roadwork.

Scott Owen wasn't going to let busy work crews deter him from getting to his downtown destination Monday morning.

"Trying to get a haircut with all the construction going on there in Long Beach," he said, from his chair inside Long Beach Barber Shop.

He made his way to the barber's chair by following a few signs.

"I cut through the parking lot at Peoples Bank and there was a big wooden sign there. I finally saw that and cut across and parked in their regular parking lot," Owen said.

Peoples Bank is also spreading the word among its customers. The message is simple: Despite the busy roadwork, it's business as usual.

"Seems to be working out pretty good," bank employee Joyce Daniels said. "We gave a way for them to go to the barber shop, in and out. She's putting up signs and we've put up signs. And everybody's working together. I think it's going to turn out pretty good."

Lil' Ray's isn't selling as many shrimp po boys these days. The construction right outside the restaurant's front door has meant fewer customers.

"Thank goodness the other day they put some signs on the detour sign saying that we are open, which hopefully will help us a little bit," said Stephanie Walters, who works at the popular restaurant.

Like other merchants downtown, Walters doesn't want customers deterred by the detour.

"Hopefully, it'll pick back up. We've still got good food. Y'all come in and eat," urged Walters.

The mayor of Long Beach said he certainly appreciates the patience of downtown business owners during this construction project.

He's confident that once the project is finished, it will not only help existing downtown merchants, it will also attract new business to the area.

"They can see the vision that the city's had to have this work, and they're buying into it as well," Mayor Billy Skellie said. "It's going to be a very nice street. I think it's going to be the life blood and a catalyst for the city."

The southern most section of Jeff Davis Avenue is already done.  The entire $6 million project should be finished by next summer.

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