Gulf Coast Economy Leads The State - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/17/03

Gulf Coast Economy Leads The State

The financial outlook in our area is the best in the state according to the Federal Reserve. Economists say overall the Southeast's economy is outperforming the rest of the nation. They base their findings in part on employment numbers.

Brick by brick Coast community Bank is laying a promising future in South Mississippi. The past few years business has been booming.

D'Auby Shields, the chief executive officer, said "we've actually grown the bank to about $134 million in total assets. We've been experiencing good growth and we're now in the process of building a new office on Highway 49 in Orange Grove."

As profits have grown, so has the staff. The bank hired several new employees to work in its Orange Grove branch . The Federal reserve says Coast Community Bank doesn't reflect the national job trend.

"The current situation is still pretty tepid in the labor markets," said John Robertson of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. "Employers are still by enlarge hesitant to add to permanent payrolls."

Economists say what has made the difference on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is diverse tourism. Robertson praises projects like the new Ohr-O'Keefe museum. Other business leaders agree this is just one of the many attractions which give the area variety.

Patrick Barber has several commercial development projects in the works.

"There's a lot of things that we have on the coast. We've got the military here. We've got the casinos here and we've got a broad base of tourism and other things that support all of that. So we've really become really well rounded."

Economist John Robertson says there's a reason other parts of Mississippi aren't doing as well as the Gulf Coast. He says they're economies rely heavily on manufacturing plants that aren't run efficiently.

by Danielle Thomas

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