Tax break brings big business

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - When Biloxi's classic souvenir shop Sharkheads returns to its location on Highway 90, It won't be alone. Developers are looking to also build a Hilton Garden Inn Hotel on the north side of Beach Boulevard.

"It'll be seven stories high, 142 rooms. It'll have convention accessories as well. Hotels are certainly something we need right now," said Biloxi Community Development Director Jerry Creel.

"We're down about 2,000 hotel, motel rooms since Katrina. So, this will mean a lot. We're down about 3,000 jobs since Katrina. So, that will mean more jobs for people," said Biloxi Mayor AJ Holloway.

Sharkheads and the new Hilton are two businesses that are taking advantage of a tax exemption program offered by the city.

"It's really a great program to take advantage of. Your property taxes can be exempted up to 100 percent and up to seven years depending on the scope of the project," said Creel.

"I think it's the economic development; get people back into building back. To get a tax exemption like that means a lot to them to start with. That's why we implemented that," said Holloway.

The program also encourages development that is in keeping with the Old Biloxi style.

"We didn't want to see our coastline with a bunch of steel buildings elevated in the air so what the council did, was amended the original tax credit ordinance. The more you use traditional elements like the hardy plank and those things to create the old Biloxi look, the greater you are to get the max," said Creel.

Anyone who is building a new structure, or improving an existing structure, is eligible for the break.

"It's what I like to think as-economic development. Getting things back up. Getting people working. Getting money moving, circulating in the city," said Holloway.

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