The grand opening of Champion Dodge and Jeep signaled more than just another car dealership in town. It means the return of tax revenue the city lost when DeRussy Motors moved out of the location.
"The more sales you make, the more sales tax the city of Bay St. Louis gets, so we're all for you," Councilman At Large Bill Taylor said. "Welcome to Bay St. Louis."
For Champion, it means a prime location to move cars.
"We went through and looked at the entire area around here, and we think the area on Highway 90 is exceptional. We have a little over four acres here and can accommodate I think over 300 or 400 cars in this, both new and used," Dealership President Robert Weinmann said.
Many other buildings vacated nearly two years ago also have new tenants. A pool and spa company now occupies the old West Building supply facility, and Dollar General now occupies a portion of the old Winn Dixie building.
Bay St. Louis Mayor Eddie Favre says low property taxes and a city council that is pro business are some of the reasons for the turn around.
"In the past, it's been a situation where some of the businesses that were either existing or new businesses wanting to locate here felt there was a lot of red tape, different ordinances that kind of tied their hands, whether it was in the form of temporary signage or streamers or anything they felt necessary to help enhance their business," Favre said. "Now the council is looking at some of those ordinances to eliminate some of the red tape."
"Renovations are very complicated, and construction can be difficult," Councilman Weinmann said. "They worked with us closely to help us get open as quickly as we could."
Mayor Favre says being accommodating is one of the keys to attracting business and getting them to stay.Favre also told WLOX News that members of his administration will meet periodically with big and small businesses in town to make sure their needs are being met. And if they're not, he wants to find out what the city can do to help them keep their doors open.