To say that business is booming on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast is an understatement. This vibrant area is undergoing a period of unprecedented growth, with more than $3.3 billion in new commercial and industrial development — an indication that the state’s economic center is no longer in Jackson, but along the coast.

With such vigorous growth, it’s no surprise that the Gulf Coast made Forbes magazine’s 2000 list of the top 100 places to do business. The top five growth areas are gaming and tourism, manufacturing and distribution, government, retail, and transportation. Retail growth alone has doubled since 1995, to $5 billion a year.

Several organizations like Biloxi’s Economic and Community Development Department and the Harrison County Development Commission work closely with the business community to provide a climate where new ventures can thrive. Business also gets a boost from the Greater Biloxi Economic Development Foundation, which manages the

graphicGulf Coast Business Technology Center - Harrison County’s small-business incubator facility. The incubator provides shared services and business support along with office and warehouse space for entrepreneurs to help them grow their business. The Harrison County Development Commission owns the facility, with support given from the City of Biloxi and the Harrison County Board of Supervisors.

To address issues the region will face in the future, the Mississippi Coast Chamber of Commerce sponsors Leadership Gulf Coast, a program that identifies and trains the leaders of tomorrow. The Chamber is also a member of the Gulf Coast Regional Chamber Coalition, working together with sister Chambers along the Gulf Coast to develop the Gulf region.

The Gulf Coast also is a national leader in meeting facilities, earning a spot in Successful Meeting magazine’s list of top 10 domestic locations for meetings in the new millennium.

The Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center in Biloxi provides 180,000 square feet of meeting space in a spectacular setting overlooking the gulf, with top-notch sound, lighting, and telecommunications systems. An additional 140,000 square feet of meeting space is available in the region’s many resort hotels.

The Gulf Coast has much to be proud of, and it sells itself well. The Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau was the only CVB — and one of only four hospitality industries — to make Advertising Age magazine’s list of the 100 best-marketed companies in America.

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