Bay St. Louis Merchants To Join Main Street Association

It's a partnership business owners in downtown Bay St. Louis believe will give them a huge advantage when it comes to hurricane recovery.

The president of the Old Town Merchants Association says the organization is taking steps to become part of the Mississippi Main Street Association early next year.

While many other business in Old Town Bay St. Louis are starting over, Kay Gough is just starting out.

Her newly opened bookstore Bay Books wasn't in the neighborhood before the hurricane.

"I've always thought Old Town Bay St. Louis had a lot of charm," said Gough. "It's reputation as a small arts community really led us here and gave us the impetus to try to invest and try to start here."

The race is on for Dave Moynan of Maggie May's to get gallery space ready in his building for three new businesses before November's Second Saturday festivities.

The president of the Old Town Merchants Association says as the number of businesses grows so does the need to attract more tourists to Bay St. Louis.

"We have 40 plus businesses that are open and seven that will be opening in this building alone," he said. "To get the word out that Bay St. Louis is alive and yes, it's still better in the Bay even after Katrina."

Merchants say as they continue to work to revitalize Old Town, they believe a helping hand from the Mississippi Main Street Association would make a huge difference.

"There are a lot of advantages," said Moynan. "There are also some community block grants which are funds that will be available to us that would not normally be available. To help businesses replace and restore their facade for instance. It can also help with city funding as an adjunct to sidewalk repairs, widening streets, making spaces for public art. "

It's president says the Old Town Merchants Association intends to apply for Main Street status in January and has been working with the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce to make that happen.