Long Beach Charrette Focuses On Highway 90 Businesses

Getting "back to business" along Highway 90 in Long Beach is the focus of a mini-Charrette going on there this week.

A firm from Washington D.C. is on the coast again to talk to residents. But this time they're really focusing on the most important part of any city's economy - small businesses.

Long Beach Lookout owner Rob Stinson hopes to re-open his once thriving restaurant that was decimated by Katrina.

"I sure hope so. We spent a lot of money to buy the lease and, obviously, I have a huge obligation because of it," Stinson said.

He's now operating "Lookout 49" in on Highway 49 in Gulfport, but wants to be part of Long Beach again.

"As a business owner, I want to see Long Beach prosper. Obviously I have a huge, huge responsibility where I am at the Lookout in Long Beach."

But as he watches the architects' ideas, he can't help but think of one pressing thing.

"I think that the plans are wonderful. I think it looks great. But the big question is, who's going to pay for it?"

Long Beach Mayor Billy Skellie says, "Well, it takes money. You can plan, you can do everything possible in your plans, but you have to have investors and it is 'show me the money.'"

Mayor Skellie is optimistic that the money will come.

"It would be corporate, it would be private investors."

And, he says, the Governor's Commission is making that very possible with its groundbreaking "Go Zone" initiative.

"It's just an amazing amount of tax incentives to come here and invest. I mean, serious incentives. It's really a great thing, if people take advantage of it. It's serious and it will bring corporate America here."

Bringing corporate America to quiet little Long Beach is what Skellie says will bring their economy back to life.

"We need to be progressive and I certainly want us to stay quaint and I think that the two can be achieved."