WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Waveland leaders call the downtown area the heart of the city. It's a heart that was ripped out five years ago by Hurricane Katrina. With work to restore Coleman Avenue set to be complete by the middle of the next month, officials said they are preparing to launch a campaign to lure businesses into the area.
"The old downtown was the heart and soul to the community," said Mayor Tommy Longo.
The mayor said before Katrina, Coleman Avenue was the city's heart, soul, and its economic engine. Now the city is hoping to get that financial spark back again.
Mayor Longo said, "Everybody statewide, nationwide, especially here along the coast are having to budgetary problems, and you can only cut so much. You have to grow your economy. That's going to be a big part of downtown."
City officials said infrastructure work and paving is complete on the half mile street. Workers are now turning their attention to putting in sidewalks, new antique lighting and landscaping.
Waveland leaders believe street improvements along with the fire station, city hall, library and other projects under construction will make Coleman Avenue too good of a location for businesses to pass up.
Lili Stahler is Alderman for Ward 1 she said, "Who could resist something as lovely as this and as charming? We've got the beaches. We'll have the harbor. We'll have the pier. We'll have fishing tournaments and pleasure boating. It will be a destination."
Also on Coleman, will be a business incubator. Mayor Tommy Longo said it could give a foothold to businesses having a difficult time getting off the ground since Katrina.
"Your independent businesses are your mainstay in your community where your majority of your jobs are. The heartbeat of your community and the heartbeat of your economy," said Mayor Longo. "It's just so many fantastic projects that are going on down here and hopefully those will be a catalyst to the economy and the business coming back to downtown."
Reconstruction of Coleman Avenue is expected to be complete by mid September. City officials said in October Wave Fest, which was held on Coleman before Katrina, will move back to its original location.