Gulfport mayor wants to unite as "One Coast"

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - If you are not from South Mississippi and you take a ride along Highway 90 from Hancock to Jackson County, you probably wouldn't know you were driving through several different cities if it were not for the welcome signs.

Mayor Billy Hewes is urging residents and leaders to forget about those dividers and work together as "One Coast."

"If we can promote things in the area of tourism, beautification, sporting events, and even politics; there are certain issues that bind us together," Mayor Hewes said. "If we can go to Jackson with one voice, Washington to speak in a unified voice, it will serve us a lot better."

The "One Coast" concept is not about forming an organization with meetings to attend. It is about changing your way of thinking. As the mayor put it, there is no charge, no obligation, just opportunity.

"Now as the mayor of Gulfport I'm going to be trying to get as many jobs here as I can, events and activities; but I realize we are not going to get them all and I think all the others realize that too," Hewes said. "So if we can't get something, I want our sister community to because of all the jobs that will come, activities, people are going to spend money across lines."

Each city has its own unique personality and highlighting those assets as One Coast can benefit everyone.

"Cruisin' the Coast is a perfect example of a multi-jurisdiction activity. There is no reason we shouldn't have more and build on that type of success as an example," Hewes said.

Coast resident Fred Paetow said, "I have always thought of it as the Coast anyway because I have always realized being a public servant one area affects the other, even with the casinos coming in to Biloxi it helped the revenue in Ocean Springs.

Mayor Hewes has met with tri-county tourism leaders and other South Mississippi mayors who are also on board with the idea.

"The only agenda here is to push unification and an attitude that we recognize that this idea: This Coast, is bigger than any one particular person, organization or community.

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.