BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi has 311 million reasons to celebrate. That's $311 million in construction projects taking place in the city right now.
City leaders say the growth is a pleasant surprise considering that for two years after Katrina there were all sorts of obstacles that stalled development.
Problems like high insurance rates, new FEMA flood maps and financing then the economy and the BP oil spill. Lately though, Biloxi has seen a business boom.
The pink metal really pops through the layers of steel and concrete. The Sharkheads Souvenir Shop is one of the most prominent structures on Biloxi's beach front.
Owner JJ Pierotich said, "It helps to get attention, and it's always been our color; it's our signature thing."
Pierotich said he actually wanted it a little brighter. Seeing the 35,000 square foot building rise from the ground is a symbol of recovery for the Pierotich family.
"We started a little, I guess, right after Katrina," Pierotich said. "First we weren't going to do it. It's been three to four years in the planning, a scaled-back version. We're very happy and proud about it.
Lately, more businesses are building back along the water's edge.
"Up until last year, there seemed to be a hesitancy to rebuild, developers to rebuild along the coast line, and all of a sudden you drive down Beach Boulevard and we've got projects, one right after the other," Biloxi Economic Development Director Jerry Creel said. "It's always been industrial. there were buildings here and here."
In east Biloxi, one waterfront project is sure to turn a lot of 'Parrot Heads.'
"This won't be like any other casino," Margaritaville CEO & President Tom Brosig said.
The new Margaritaville Casino promises fantastic scenery, food and fun.
We're going to have an erupting volcano, that follows the story line of a famous Jimmy Buffet volcano song.
The 55-million dollar project... is the first new casino in Harrison County... since Katrina.
"We will be creating almost 1,000 jobs, so the income tax and property tax and hopefully re energize east Biloxi, specifically Clay Point," Brosig said. "There's a lot of land on Clay Point and if we can be the catalyst for future development."
And the new Walmart on Switzer Road is expected to spark mostly retail development on the west side of town. Along with new businesses, subdivisions are also under construction.
"We finally started to churn again," Creel said. "We have a number of projects coming in. I see Biloxi re-establishing that tourist destination, resort area that we've wanted for so long."
Creel said one incentive for building back along the coast line is a tax credit the city is offering to new developments and businesses that make improvements in high-risk areas.
Residential and gaming structures do not qualify for the tax exemption.