Small Businesses Elated Over On-Shore Casino Vote

Liz Joachim pointed to some vending machines and said, "These are history. Just history."

All 100 vending machines are ruined and 36 trucks are out of service. Joachim walked into a destroyed storage building and said, "You can see here too, where the roof has come through."

There's not much to salvage at Corso, Inc. on Caillavet Street.

"This is all to be thrown away," Joachim said as she looked at a pile of food.

Joachim nearly lost her long-time wholesale and vending supply company to Katrina's fury.

"It's just an emotional thing."

Since the storm, Joachim feared she would also lose her strong business connection with all the casinos.

"The casino business is about 40 percent of our business. I thought if the casinos don't come back, I don't know if we're going to survive or not," Joachim said.

For years, Corso has supplied products for the casino gift shops, restaurants and employee lounges, ranging from groceries to cigarettes.

"It's been a good marriage with the casinos, that's all I can say. I didn't want a divorce with them."

That marriage will likely continue, now that state lawmakers have said "I do" to casinos moving on-shore.

"It was wonderful news to hear last night that they came to their senses. It would have been a sad day, a very sad day, if they had not allowed this," Joachim said.

Now, Joachim and her employees are eager to restock and rebuild. Joachim says supporting the casinos will send a positive ripple effect across the Coast.

"It touches everything, taxes, the whole bit. So I'm excited," Joachim said.

Local linen companies also do a lot of business with the gaming industry. They wash, dry and fold table linens, towels and curtains, as well as provide entrance mats for the casinos and hotels.

The owner of "Anchor Linen Supply" in Gulfport, Kenny Desporte, told WLOX news, "We've got a ray of hope now. The governor and state legislature were given the task of bringing relief and job opportunities to South Mississippi, and they have succeeded. We all have a little spring in our steps today."

Desporte says he has accounts with Treasure Bay, and Casino Magic in Biloxi and Bay St. Louis. His newest customer is Hard Rock Casino.