Business couldn't be better at a party supply store in Gulfport. The manager says she'd like to see more customers come in from other stores that may soon open just across Hightway 49 at the Landon Road intersection. "We've heard for years rumors of other merchants coming into the area but at this point I guess they are still just rumors," says Renee Bearden.
Not so, says Supervisor Larry Benefield. "These are real projects. These are people that if it hadn't been for the storm they'd probably already have some sort of construction underway but I think in the very near future I've talked to several people and their plans are on go even more than before the storm," Benefield says. Benefield says much of the northwest corner of Landon Road is already under contract. He won't name names, but says they're big box and retail stores.
More shopping options bring more traffic challenges. Benefield says as the retail prospects become reality they'l have to look at ways to make traffic flow easier. "I think we'll have to look at some four lane opportunities here. Ya know Landon Road is so heavily traveled already. It's just a two lane country road."
The stores translate into dollars for the Harrison County and Gulfport School districts. The four corners of Highway 49 and I-10 belong to the county schools. The lease for the Crossroads Mall alone adds up to $150,000 a year. Henry Arledge, Harrison County's School Superintendent says, "More money for the Harrison County school district, more money for the City of Gulfport school district and that just means we won't have to raise taxes that much higher."
The property being considered for new business is in the county and city. Supervisor Larry Benefield says some development will probably be joint projects between Harrison County and Gulfport.