Gulfport's Lisa Bradley recognized for development success - - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport's Lisa Bradley recognized for development success

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Not long ago, downtown Gulfport was a place of neglected buildings; attracting little interest from business owners. But in the years since Hurricane Katrina, Gulfport's downtown has been revitalized. And seven year City of Gulfport employee Lisa Bradley has helped orchestrate that success.

"From the beginning, we knew we had something really special," said Bradley. "I like to think of it as the end result of a group of like-minded and very dedicated people working together."

Bradley directed Gulfport's Main Street program and now serves as the city's business and economic development director.

"There's so much going on right now. We hear from new folks every day. And we've got some vacant lots that need to be cleaned up. We've got some that need to be redeveloped. The prospective casino development is going to have a huge impact on downtown Gulfport. And we're ready," she said.

The success of Gulfport's downtown development has its roots in Hurricane Katrina. Because despite all the devastation wrought by that storm, it also created grant monies and federal programs aimed at things like economic development, downtown.

One of the most successful post-Katrina projects was the facade program.

"After Katrina, there were so many speculative developers just driving through our town. And when they saw downtown Gulfport, it wasn't attractive. There wasn't a reason to stop. And I think, if nothing else, it made people stop and realize by sprucing-up these buildings there was really something very special behind them," Bradley explained.

Bradley says the thing she enjoys most about economic development is "creating a place that you love."

"And that's what's been so special with me about downtown Gulfport. Not only am I creating a place that I love, I have a young child. And I know he's going to love it," she said, smiling.

Though modest about her own success, her peers have noticed. She's been named one of 40 "Rising Stars Under 40" by the International Economic Development Council.

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