Gulf Coast Restoration Fund Advisory Board discusses $730 million in grant requests

The board was presented with 119 applications and only felt that 29 either met the requirements of the application or were found to be key contributors to development in South Mississippi.

Gulf Coast Restoration Fund Advisory Board discusses $730 million in grant requests

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Gulf Coast Restoration Fund Advisory Board met Tuesday and had lengthy discussions about projects from one end of the Gulf Coast to another.

Initially, the board eliminated all but 40 projects from further consideration and went back to take a closer look at those, ultimately eliminating more.

A common thread among many of the applications submitted was match funding. According to the rules on the application, there must be a 20% match of the overall project. Many of the applications did not meet that requirement instead only putting up 20% of the amount requested from the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA).

Gulf Coast Restoration Fund Advisory Board discusses $730 million in grant requests
Gulf Coast Restoration Fund Advisory Board discusses $730 million in grant requests (Source: Photo WLOX)

“If we could just determine, do we want to continue to leave it on the table or, based on what you’ve heard, is there something that makes you want to remove it from the table?" asked board chairman Ashley Edwards.

Coastal cities, counties, private organizations and even municipalities have asked the MDA for money for various projects. Melissa Scallan with the MDA said that the process has many layers.

“MDA had a scoring committee of three people, and we scored all of the projects based on legislative priorities. The highest possible score was 45. Those scores were then given to the members of the advisory board," Scallan told WLOX.

Gulf Coast Restoration Fund Advisory Board discusses $730 million in grant requests
Gulf Coast Restoration Fund Advisory Board discusses $730 million in grant requests (Source: Photo WLOX)

According to board chairman Edwards, many applications lacked a key requirement.

“This is a process in which you want to make certain that there are funds leveraged, so these investments can ultimately bring other funding to the table," Edwards said. “One of our big questions today was ensuring that all of that is accounted for and that it’s been reconciled by the Mississippi Development Authority."

Those projects that were moved forward Tuesday were seen as key to progress in South Mississippi.

“Are these projects investments in our future, investments in our quality of life, investments in our economy, investments in our workforce, investments in our competitive position... things that will ultimately take the Coast forward and be even better than we’ve been before," Edwards said.

Gulf Coast Restoration Fund Advisory Board discusses $730 million in grant requests
Gulf Coast Restoration Fund Advisory Board discusses $730 million in grant requests (Source: Photo WLOX)

However, removal from the list doesn’t mean the application is dead.

“MDA will turn over all the projects to the legislature, so all of the 119 projects that were submitted will be under consideration from the legislature," Scallan said.

Some projects like East Biloxi Convention Center and Memorial Hospital’s Virtual Medicine didn’t make the committee’s preferred list, while others like the Saenger Theater and Bay St. Louis Depot District moved forward. That said, it’s important to remember that all applications will be submitted, but right now, only 29 of those are recommended by the board.

Below is a list of the 29 projects that are currently under further consideration by the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund Advisory Board:

ENTITY REQUESTING PROJECT NAME
Aerojet Rocketdyne NASA SSC Test Stand B1B Upgrade
Bay St. Louis BSL Depot District Improvements
Biloxi Point Cadet Marina Redevelopment
Biloxi Saenger Theatre Restoration
Gautier Town Center Development
Long Beach Beach Front and Gateway Enhancements
Pass Christian Downtown Redevelopment Initiative
Gulf Coast Community Foundation Harrison County Active Living Initiative
Gulfport School District STEM Exploratorium
GPT/BLX Regional Airport Authority Project Ready Site Expansion and Preparation
Hancock County Port/Harbor Commission Multi-User Aero Strip
Hancock County Utility Authority Wastewater from Stennis for Treatment at Northern Region
Harrison County Library System Venture Lab
Jackson County Board of Sups Pascagoula River/Blueway Connection Project
John C. Robinson Assoc. MS Aviation Heritage Museum Expansion
Memorial Hospital Foundation Memorial Multispecialty Center
Michael J. Reso Diamondhead Commercial District Project
MS Aquarium Marine Mobile Unit
Coastal Mississippi Adrenaline Shot/Strategic Events
Coastal Mississippi Strategic Partnerships
MS YMCA Coastal MS YMCA
MS State Port Authority SHED 53 Conversion to Cold Storage
MS Veterans Affairs Veterans Home at Traditions
National Diabetes/Obesity Research Institute Research Center
OHOS Development LLC/Ocean Springs 1515 Government Street
Pearl River Community College Aviation Aerospace Workforce Academy
Stone County School District SCHS Career Tech Education Center
University of Southern MS Ocean Enterprise, Phase 1
Walter Anderson Museum of Art WAMA Creative Complex

The advisory board did not vote on anything Tuesday but will at the October meeting.

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