Biloxi Lands National Governors Association Conference

Governor Haley Barbour announced today that Biloxi will be the site for the 98th Annual Meeting of the National Governors Association .  The event will take placee in the summer of 2006. It will mark the first time this organization has met in Mississippi since 1935.

The nation's governors voted on the selection by paper ballot after this year's annual meeting in Seattle, Washington.

"It is a high honor for Mississippi to be chosen for this prestigious meeting," said Governor Barbour. "Governors from across the nation and media from around the world will be in attendance, and we will make the most of this opportunity to showcase Mississippi. It has been 69 years since the nation's governors have been to Mississippi and we are eager to show them what they've missed."

About 1,200 people attend NGA's Annual Meeting each year. Attendees include the 55 Governors, their spouses and families, Governors' staff and other representatives from state government, representatives of federal government agencies, the White House, private-sector and business representatives, and approximately 300 members of the national, regional and local news media.

Additional invitees include people from the host state government and private sector identified by the host governor as having an interest in the issues the Governors are addressing. NGA's nine-governor Executive Committee selects the site of the Annual Meeting from a field of several states that explored hosting the meeting.

The 2004 Annual Meeting was held July 17-19 in Seattle, Washington, and the 2005 Annual Meeting will be held July 16-19 in Des Moines, Iowa.

"This is a huge coup for the State of Mississippi," said Leland Speed, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority. "The prestige that goes along with this established association speaks volumes for the resources and attractions that Mississippi has to offer. What better way to generate awareness of Mississippi than to have these governors spend time in our state addressing national issues."

The National Governors Association is a bipartisan collection of governors from the 50 states, the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, as well as the commonwealths of the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico. Since their initial meeting in 1908, the NGA meets twice a year, at the Winter Meeting held in Washington, D.C., usually in February, and at the Annual Meeting at a selected destination in July.

NGA's mission is to provide a forum for governors to dialogue on national and state policy issues.

The Gulf Coast has been chosen as the venue for the event. The Governor's Office and the Mississippi Development Authority's Division of Tourism will immediately begin forming a host committee that will work with the NGA and hotel and facility representatives on the Gulf Coast to plan for the event.

The MDA says the event should provide an economic boost to the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast. Speed applauded Governor Barbour for securing the bid so soon into his term. "This reflects the recognition Mississippi has received since Governor Barbour has been in office," he said. "And I think it speaks highly of the positive attention and respect it will garner for Mississippi to a watching national audience."