BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The coast business community is on a mission. It's developing a united front in the battle to make sure the coast gets its fair share of BP settlement money.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce is leading the effort to send a clear message to the state legislature when they consider how to allocate BP money during the 2018 legislative session. Adele Lyons heads up the Coast Chamber. "We need it to be absolutely fair and just for an honorable settlement for our recovery efforts," she said, "because as the coast economy goes, so goes the state's economy. Let us do our part in the recovery effort for the state from an economic standpoint."
The Coast Chamber just announced it's teaming up with chambers from Jackson and Hancock Counties along with the Gulf Coast Business Council. They plan to travel to Jackson next month to make sure their voice is heard.
The group is playing off of the One Coast marketing scheme by expanding it to the theme One Plan, One Voice, One Future.
Hancock County chamber director Tish Williams sent this notice to her members. "We have asked the Legislative Delegation to come together and offer one legislative bill we can get behind," she wrote. "Once that bill is drafted and we are in agreement as to the language used, we will begin a grass roots campaign to speak with one voice to call for the passage of the bill in the House and the Senate."
People are being asked to sign a banner. The plan is to take those signatures to the capital for the annual Coast Legislative Reception on January 10, 2018.
Coast leaders will extend that lobbying effort beyond the reception. "The next day we plan to be in the rotunda," Lyons said, "to show legislators that the coast is all together that the BP funds, we're looking to have here on the coast to have transformational economic impact so we can recover."
Biloxi State Representative Scott Delano is working with community leaders and says it's important for his fellow lawmakers to see the Coast on the same page with this issue. "I think it's meaningful for the coast to deliver a single message up to Jackson," said Rep. Delano. "It helps us tell our story of how the Gulf Coast deserves most of this BP money."
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves will be a major player in determining the fate of the millions of dollars pouring into Mississippi from the BP oil spill settlement. Reeves said in the past 100% of the money should be coast bound. Some are suggesting a more realistic goal would be to ensure that at least 80% of the funds target projects in the three coastal counties.
Coast leaders believe 2018 is the year to get this done.
The Coast Chamber will have banners available and business people are encouraged to add their signatures so lawmakers see that the coast remains united.