Downtown Gulfport applauds casino approval - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Downtown Gulfport applauds casino approval

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Many business owners in Downtown Gulfport say they have no doubt they'll be cashing in on the foot traffic created when casino patrons start to venture across the street. Many business owners in Downtown Gulfport say they have no doubt they'll be cashing in on the foot traffic created when casino patrons start to venture across the street.
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

A cheer went out over Downtown Gulfport when news broke a new casino had finally been approved by the state gaming commission. Business owners and residents talked about what it could mean for the city.

Mike Fleming took a break from the billboard business to get a quick bite to eat in Downtown Gulfport. Fleming looks forward to one day putting up billboards directing tourists from the interstate to the new Hemingway Resort and Casino.

"Really excited about what's going on with approval, because a lot of infrastructure has been put in here after Katrina," said Fleming. "Now more of the smaller business are going to benefit from a large casino coming here."

Downtown business owners have no doubt they'll be cashing in on the foot traffic created when casino patrons start to venture across the street.

Tony Swigris owns a pizza parlor. "It will be good. We definitely need more hotel rooms to bring those types of people in. More tourists," said Swigris. "It will bring more people to Downtown. There'll be more people coming to the restaurants. More people coming to find out what we have to offer in Downtown."

"I don't think there's any doubt that we'll see business from what the casino is going to do and vice versa," said restaurant owner Rob Stinson. "That we'll be able to send people to a new casino that is out there on the water."

Many people said it won't just be the downtown reaping the benefits of new casino and hotel. The resort is expect to generate 650 jobs.

"It's going to bring a lot more jobs available for everybody," said Judy Smith of Saucier. "It will help with the taxes. It will help with the local schools just to improve everybody all around.

Smith said, "It's going to bring more people downtown to go into all the local businesses here, the small private businesses, the restaurants, the gift shops, and the florists. Everything they have down here. People are going to want to come and spend time down here and shop."

Some business owners said the new casino will go a long way in encouraging new investors in Downtown Gulfport and will be a shot in the arm for the harbor.

"I think it's going to help build the solidity of the harbor," Stinson said. "The big question right now is the future of the harbor. This will create as many jobs as the harbor has hoped to create at one fell swoop."

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