D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - A major economic boost is unfolding in D'Iberville. A brand new, state of the art car dealership is now open with another on the way. It's expected to be just the beginning of a retail giant growing on the southwest corner of I-10 and I-110.
The doors are now open at Mandal Buick GMC, and cars are being serviced. Not only is this building new, it's also safe for mechanics. John McQuillan is the service manager.
"We have built in meters that will automatically read. If it gets above the levels that are considered safe, an alarm goes off, all the doors open up automatically, and the exhaust fans come on. That will stay in place until the levels are brought back down to a safe level," McQuillan explained.
Next door, a new Mandal BMW dealership is under construction. Between the two, it means about 100 jobs, according to operations manager Sarah Cranfield.
"We have some administrative type positions, we have some management positions that are coming open, and then mechanics. Everything. It runs the gamut. Basically, from a greeter all the way up to top management," Cranfield said.
Customers like Michael Carradine, who was first in the door, are impressed.
"I got the grand tour early this morning. Beautiful building. Absolutely gorgeous. Very large. Anyone should feel very comfortable coming here to get their car serviced," Carradine gushed.
While these two car dealerships represent an investment of some $25 million to $30 million, what's perhaps even more important is what lies in the future. The property a few blocks from the dealerships is being used for a shopping development call the Galleria.
It hasn't come to pass yet, but the two dealerships could be a game changer. That's the opinion of company president Bo Mandal.
"This is the beginning of something that's going to create a lot of long term jobs, a lot of long term opportunities for many, many companies that have never even been on the Mississippi Gulf Coast," Mandal explained. "The big vision really at the end of the day is to attract people to have a destination location where they can do all of their shopping in one location. Whether it be retail and clothing stores, whether it be iPhones or automobiles."
The BMW dealership is set to open in April. Negotiations are still underway with developers on the Galleria project, which could be up and running to some degree by late 2019.