A popular restaurant has just announced its plans to open its second location on the coast. Patio 44 is opening a new location on a 1.8-acre property just west of the aquarium construction site. The Hattiesburg-original eatery already has a recently opened location in Biloxi.
The development has people talking.
"I think it would be a good thing for us," said Mollie Anderson of Gulfport. "We could get more tourists coming in."
"I don't mind at all. I like to eat," said Evelyn Taylor of Vancleave. "I like good food and I like the food we have here on the coast."
Taylor said the incoming business means more than just a new place to get a bite to eat.
"That means more jobs, more for the economy and I see a bright future for Gulfport," she said.
Although it will be bringing jobs and the potential for even more development, there is another way to look at it according to retired economics professor and frequent Gulfport visitor, Dennis Quillen.
Quillen believes new development doesn't always guarantee positive impacts on the economy.
"If you're not bringing new money in from out of the county, out of the region, all you're doing is just trading money around from a restaurant to a ballpark to a casino to whatever, but you're not making new money," he said.
But, there are already folks bringing in that new money. Mike and Molly Flaherty are first-time visitors from Denver.
"We always like to find new restaurants," said Mike Flaherty.
He and his wife say new developments might bring even more first-time visitors like themselves to the area.
"When I see the vacant land and the foundations of houses that were blown away I feel really sad for the Gulf Coast," said Molly Flaherty.
Added Mike Flaherty: "I think the growth here and the recovery is starting to show some very good rewards for this part of the country."
There is a tax abatement program in place right now in Gulfport to spur development.