BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - It's been roughly three months since the Bay St. Louis Harbor Marina opened. When the vision to bring it to town was born city leaders said it would act as a catalyst to rejuvenate the downtown area. But, is that what's happening?
WLOX News went to the streets of Old Town to find out what business owners in the area think. Pam Collins has owned a gift shop in Old Town Bay St. Louis for 14 years. She says the city's new marina has made a big difference in her bottom line.
"We're getting an influx of a whole different clientele. A couple of weeks after the soft opening we had a couple of people come in. They said they had never been to Bay St. Louis. They came over on their boat. I said, 'Where are y'all from?' I was expecting New Orleans or Alabama. They said Long Beach.They came because of the harbor. And they've come back at least twice, that I know of. They spent money. And they wanted to make sure we knew they came over on their boat," said Collins.
Collins says the $21 million investment in the marina is attracting more than just the boating community.
"They're enjoying seeing the boats. I know I am, but the customers are too. We're having a lot more traffic. A lot more foot traffic," explained Collins.
"We've been effected positively by the marina. Obviously because boaters can tie up and walk in," said Thomas Genin.
Genin owns the Blind Tiger Restaurant and Lounge. His customers get a picturesque view of the marina.
"On weekends this whole area is just packed with people," said Genin.
Genin and other downtown business owners say those people are spending money.
"It's still in the premature stages of seeing if the investment pays off, but currently the returns are looking good," said Jeremy Burke, owner of Bay Books.
Shop owners say they are hearing a lot of talk about people planning to come to the Bay by boat during Cruisin' the Coast next week to avoid traffic on the roads.