Biloxi hosts forum to spur downtown development

Biloxi hosts forum to spur downtown development

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Biloxi is hoping to get entrepreneurs, business owners and developers on board with the revitalization of the city’s downtown.

Margaret Wilcox, owner of The Grind Coffee and Nosh on Cedar Lake Road in Biloxi, is looking to expand, and she has her sights set downtown.

“We love downtown Biloxi. We live downtown. We want downtown to work, and we want to be a part of that," said Wilcox.

Biloxi city leaders want her to be a part of it as well.

The city’s downtown development incentive forum on Tuesday gave developers, entrepreneurs and business owners like Wilcox a chance to learn about available tax incentives, grants and programs that could help them in opening a downtown business.

City leaders say with the redesign of Howard Avenue complete, the focus is on luring in those who can make downtown a place to not only work and play, but also to live.

“We really want businesses and retail, restaurants, that kind of thing. But we also did a housing grant because we understand that we need that 24-hour people downtown, so really having the incentive downtown housing," said Biloxi’s historical administrator, Bill Raymond.

That idea of mixed-use development is what Lee Young envisions for The District on Howard. He wants to bring not only new life, but a new energy to the downtown area.

“We are in the process, I hope, of creating that missing element to the Coast, which we think is Howard Avenue and a hub for all that to happen in one place," he said.

Right now, he’s in talks with restaurants like Pat O’Briens, House of Blues and others interested in The District. He says Howard Avenue’s new look has made it easier to convince people to invest.

Main Street executive director, Kay Miller, says those early signs of growth are encouraging.

“It’s taken a long time, but now it’s here. We are ready to help it grow, help it take off,” said Miller.

Attendees to Tuesday’s forum also had a chance to talk and network with a number of bankers, realtors, and business leaders.

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