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