BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Biloxi Chamber wants to fill up more vacant buildings. So it's offering a financial incentive to encourage small business owners to locate in Biloxi. On Friday, the chamber presented its first check to a new downtown tenant.
Louis Peterman and Brandon Hall have owned salons before in D'Iberville and New York City. Three months ago, they gave a vacant building in the Vieux Marche a fresh, new look and opened Louis James Salon.
"Growing up in Biloxi, I've always loved the Vieux Marche. I always thought it was a cool area and it could be so much cooler than it already is. So we figured we would take a chance, move our business down here," said Hall.
That move paid off. On Friday, the salon became the first recipient of the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce's Re-Occupancy Grant.
"We, as residents and business owners, looked around and we saw a lot of vacant buildings in the area. We want businesses to come to Biloxi and want the business community to thrive here," said Biloxi Chamber Director Rachael Seymour.
The $1,000 check is designed to help small business owners pay some of the overhead costs.
"You definitely have to have money for all the rents, all the deposits, all of our equipment that we had to buy. The money was an issue in the beginning, but luckily, we did receive this grant. That's going to offset some of the bills," said Hall.
To be eligible for the grant, you must be a member of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, have no more than 25 full time employees per location, and priority will be given to applicants who want to move into buildings that have been vacant for at least six months.
"We're targeting the entire city of Biloxi. It's very important now, because we feel we're on the hinge of really exploding here in Biloxi with business and culture, and small businesses are the backbone of our community," said Seymour.
"I would definitely love to see this area grow. We have a spot right next door that's open. There's plenty of spots for people to come and open businesses," said Hall.