OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - Community leaders in Ocean Springs are attempting to come up with creative ways to lure developers to the City of Discovery.
The city council voted unanimously Wednesday night to create a “Redevelopment Plan," which is a prerequisite for any tax increment financing program. That redevelopment plan targets properties that are undeveloped and tries to determine why they remain unused. Once that’s done, the city can determine whether they want to give tax breaks to developers to build on the property.
That is the basis for every tax increment financing program, and Mayor Shea Dobson believes it could help boost Ocean Springs economically.
“I am very excited," said the mayor. “I think it is an opportunity. It is just something else in our toolbox. We are big on economic development and we want to do everything we can to make it as easy as possible for developers to come in here and do business in our city.”
Downtown is known as the heart and soul of Ocean Springs but this is not the region that city leaders are targeting for more development. That is actually East Ocean Springs, where there are plenty of sites for sale but few active businesses
“It may allow us to develop some land to the east of Ocean Springs, especially land along Highway 90, land that is wetlands," explained alderman Ken Papania. “That will allow us to go forward in that area.”
While East Ocean Springs may be the target of the new program, Dobson believes the whole city would benefit.
“I am always interested in growing the pie and I think that is one misconception frankly that is out there, that there is a fixed pie," said the mayor. “I am of the belief that you can bring in new markets and grow the pie. What benefits one market can benefit another market."
Dobson went on to say the tax incentive program wouldn’t be offered everywhere in the city and the future of the program is dependent upon the redevelopment plan findings.
The city council also discussed the Gulf Coast Research Lab’s boat launch at Wednesday’s special meeting. It was once used by the public but hasn’t been for a while.
The Board of Alderman voted to give them the funds necessary to get it reopen to the public. The $87,000 will be vital in fixing bulk heads as well repairing the pier.
“I, in the past, have used this boat launch personally when it was in good shape and it’s a great asset to our area,” said Papania. “We are a water-born area, if you will. Everybody has a boat of some sort in their yards and they all need access to the Gulf, and this will give us one more venue.”
Much of the money the City of Ocean Springs is using for the boat launch project was given to the city by the Department of Marine Resources.