Biloxi mayor wants city to hire expert to lure retailers

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi may be bringing in some big players to spur economic growth. On Tuesday, Mayor A.J. Holloway said he will ask the city council to hire a Texas-based company that specializes in matching cities with retailers. The mayor said Biloxi needs more development and the sooner, the better.

After Hurricane Camille devastated the Mississippi Coast, Mayor Holloway said it took decades for Biloxi to thrive again. He doesn't want to see the same happen after Katrina.

"We want to jump start this after Katrina and get some businesses in here before waiting 20 years to get them," the mayor said.

He said Biloxi needs to fill its large tracts of vacant land with thriving retailers and restaurants. He believes a company called Buxton would be the perfect matchmaker between the city and potential businesses because of what the company has done in cities in the Southeast and Midwest.

"They are quite successful in putting cities in businesses that relate to the community," said Mayor Holloway. "We look forward to working with them. We have some sites that we've shown them already that would be available for development, and they've been studying those."

The mayor said among the good candidates for growth are Highway 90, the hub around Cedar Lake and Popp's Ferry Roads and the area between Eisenhower Drive and DeBuys Road. He said hiring Buxton makes good financial sense.

"If you hire an economic developer, you have to have a space for him. Probably have to have a secretary who will be on your payroll forever."

Holloway says Biloxi doesn't need just any business.

"We want to get them into the city and be successful. We don't want them running up in here and opening up and closing up within six months. We want to get good national retail into the city."

Mayor Holloway said the city is already looking at some possible incentives to lure more retail businesses.

"We're going to get the businesses. They're going to come sooner or later. What's important is we get them now when we need them. We need them to come back and revitalize."

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