Nonprofit agencies move into a centralized home

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The United Way, the Coast Chamber, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the Gulf Coast Business Council own a building together.  That building is where you'll find several non-profit groups that work hard to make South Mississippi a better place to live.

The junior string quartet performed at the Knight Non-Profit Center opening. The quartet is part of the Gulf Coast Symphony. And the symphony is one of the 13 non-profit groups you can now find under one roof.

Tim Bergman is the executive director of the Gulf Coast Symphony. Because his office is now next to other groups like his, Bergman this he'll be able "to pool our resources, to share ideas, and have an opportunity perhaps for some future collaborations."

A grant from The Knight Foundation, and private money from four key partners raised six-and-a-half million dollars. That money purchased and then renovated a 73,000 square foot building on Seaway Road. Groups like the United Way, the Gulf Coast Renaissance Corporation and the Boys and Girls Clubs are now just a few steps from each other.

Morris Strickland is a Nonprofit Center board member.

"They have such synergy by working together. And the whole coast, the people of the coast, is going to benefit from this," said Strickland.

The Harrison County Development Commission originally built this facility as spec building, hoping somebody would buy or lease it. That somebody was Grand Casino. Former Grand employee Susan Walker had an office there back then. She was back for the ribbon cutting.

"I didn't recognize where my office used to be. It was pretty amazing," she laughed.

When Grand's parent company, Harrah's, decided to close the Gulfport office, it offered the building to the Knight Foundation at a very discounted rate. As a result, the new Knight Non-Profit Center will make it possible for many of the area's charities to work on initiatives without worrying about maintenance costs.

"I think our biggest accomplishment will be that if people want to find the Gulf Coast Symphony, we're right here in the Knight Non-Profit Center," said Bergman.

The current tenants at the Knight Nonprofit Center include:

  • Mississippi Development Authority/Gulf Coast Housing Authority
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of the Gulf Coast
  • Gulf Coast Renaissance Corporation
  • Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra
  • Gulf Coast Business Council
  • Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce
  • Gulf Coast Community Foundation
  • John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
  • United Way of South Mississippi
  • Gulf Coast Golf Foundation
  • Mississippi Case Managers Consortium
  • Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • American Federation of Teachers of Mississippi