Waveland business incubator won't open as planned - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Waveland business incubator won't open as planned


WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Waveland's business incubator is on life support. The project was launched to spark economic development along Coleman Avenue after Hurricane Katrina. But today, the incubator isn't even open, and there's no money to run it.

The $3.4 million business incubator is only about a month away from completion. But its intended use, to help start-up businesses get off the ground, will never materialize.

"No, it will not run as an incubator," said Waveland Mayor David Garcia.

The mayor said the city budgeted $60,000 to run the facility. But Chamber of Commerce leaders estimate it will take $100,000 a year to staff and operate the center.

"Under our budget restraints, the Chamber's plan will not work," the mayor said. "The majority of that $60,000 that we have budgeted this year will go toward insurance on that building."

Garcia said instead of a business incubator housing several start up tenants, the city is now looking to lease the entire building to one business.

"Because the city of Waveland is now in the retail leasing business. We need to make it work and I think we can make it work."

Tish Williams, Executive Director of the Hancock Chamber of Commerce agreed, "I think it's important for the community to get behind the concept of bringing commerce back to Coleman Avenue, and we all need to support the city of Waveland in doing whatever needs to be done to bring that building into service."

She and others say the last thing anyone wants to see is a new $3.5 million building sitting empty.

"I would hope that the city would get a qualified realtor who has the contacts to find us a business or a restaurant to come into the incubator," said Ward 1 Alderwoman Lili Stahler.

City leaders said when they received grant funds to build the incubator, the national economy was good, insurance rates were in check and the housing market was sound. When those things changed, they said, it made running a business incubator less feasible.

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