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Harrison County

Harrison County was originally covered with pine forests and lumber was the primary industry here for many years. Today, the county boasts a diverse assortment of business and industry, from waterfront casinos to deep-water shipping.

In its early days, Harrison County was predominantly rural, with many of its residents engaged in farming. Abundant rainfall, plenty of sunshine, rich soil, and an exceptionally long growing season made this a particularly profitable place for vegetable farming and sugar cane production.

graphicCurrently, Harrison County is known for its glittering coastal casinos, military installations, golf courses, deep-water port, and nationwide reputation as "The Playground of the South." Thanks to a temperate climate, Harrison County enjoys pleasant weather even in midsummer, and the winters are exceptionally mild, making it a desirable vacation destination year-round.

Harrison County is governed by an elected, five-member Board of Supervisors, which appoints a county administrator to oversee day-to-day management of county affairs.

graphicThe county has a unique fire-fighting system, with paid firefighters working during the day and more than 200 additional volunteers on call. The county maintains 10 fire stations, and conducts regular fire-prevention programs for the public, earning it a Class 8 fire insurance rating.

County police protection is provided by the Sheriff’s Department, which maintains a Beach Patrol unit, a DARE drug awareness resistive education program in the elementary schools, and neighborhood watch programs. The department’s R.U.O.K. service monitors the welfare of residents with special needs.

All county government offices are located in the 1st Judicial District Courthouse in Gulfport, the county seat.

graphicGulfport

Gulfport is a growing, economically successful city with a rich culture that reflects its Native American, Spanish, French, and English influences.

An excellent quality of life makes it one of the most livable cities in the nation, and an ideal destination for vacationers. One recent study found Gulfport had the highest quality of life among Mississippi cities with populations over 25,000. Known as "The Gateway to the Gulf Coast," Gulfport was well planned by its founders to make it easy to get around.

Gulfport’s biggest boosters are its own residents, who are quick to encourage others to enjoy the city’s many attractions. Even in a part of the country known for its hospitality, this city is a standout. In fact, it’s known as "The Hospitality City."

Captains W.H. Hardy and Joseph T. Jones founded the city in 1887, believing that with its temperate climate and natural harbor, it had the potential to become a great seaport. With the hard work of Gulfport’s citizens, that dream has succeeded beyond the founders’ wildest imagination.

graphicBy 1907, Gulfport had become the world’s leading exporter of long-leaf yellow pine. It welcomed its first banana boat in 1919. Today, thanks in part to a $2 million terminal on the east pier, it’s the nation’s No. 1 importer of this fruit.

Gulfport is the seat of Harrison County, located between Biloxi and Pass Christian. It has about 72,000 residents. A diverse industrial base is well served by the state-owned deep water port, Illinois Central Gulf and Louisville & Nashville railroads, an inland seaway, two U.S. highways, and Interstate 10.

The waterfront is also the home of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy Seabees. From this base, the Navy sends construction experts to military sites around the world.

The Gulfport Planning Commission works closely with the Gulf Regional Planning Commission to ensure the city’s continued dynamism. The regional commission, based in Gulfport, handles planning for a four-county region that includes Harrison County.

Gulfport is governed by a mayor and five council members, all elected for four-year terms. Each is responsible for directing the activities of specific municipal departments. Gulfport’s Police Department employs 289 people, and the Fire Department has 175 employees. For additional information contact the Gulfport Chamber of Commerce at 228-863-2933. n

graphicBiloxi

Biloxi is one of the oldest cities in the United States, and with the advent of dockside gaming, it’s become one of the fastest-growing as well.

From its early days as a shrimping and fishing village, Biloxi has blossomed into one of the top tourist destinations in the country.

Dockside gaming, legalized in 1992, made Biloxi a major player in the tourism and gaming industries. The city’s nine waterfront casinos have revitalized the local economy, funding numerous public works projects, creating new jobs in tourism, hospitality, gaming, and construction, and setting the stage for continued prosperity.

To keep pace with the city’s rapid growth, Biloxi’s leaders have aggressively pursued improvements in infrastructure, recreational and educational facilities, historic preservation, and public safety.

Like other communities on the Mississippi coast, Biloxi has a colorful history. Founded in 1699 by French explorers and named for the Indians who first lived here, Biloxi was governed by France, Great Britain, and Spain before joining the Mississippi Territory in 1811.

Right from the start, the coastal location provided the foundation for the city’s economy. The earliest settlers subsisted by fishing and farming, and the first trade was shipping lumber to New Orleans and Mobile. In the 19th century, Biloxi developed as a resort community known for its fine waterfront hotels.

graphicThe city’s first seafood cannery opened in 1881. Just 20 years later, Biloxi was the seafood capital of the world. Today, that industry pumps $400 million into the local economy and provides thousands of jobs.

Biloxi, a city of 53,000, is governed by a mayor and City Council. The Fire Department employs 127 firefighters and support staff, with eight tanker companies and two ladder companies. All firefighters receive medical training and are certified as first responders. Biloxi also has its own Police Department with 140 officers.

Biloxi’s welcoming atmosphere, vibrant business climate, and endless tourist attractions make it a natural destination for both business and pleasure, and its high degree of livability makes it an attractive choice for relocating or retiring. One visit to Biloxi is all it’ll take to understand why it’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation. For additional information, contact the Biloxi Chamber at 228-374-2717.

graphicLong Beach

Long Beach, a small but vibrant city tucked between the Pass Christian and Gulfport, is one of the most livable communities on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Long Beach’s strong neighborhoods and excellent school system also make it popular with those who work in nearby Gulfport and Biloxi. Although Long Beach is a smaller community, with a population of about 17,320, its students’ standardized test scores consistently rank among the highest in the state.

Students who want to pursue further education after graduating can attend classes close to home at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast campus in Long Beach.

graphicThe beautiful coastal setting, proximity to jobs and services, and low cost of living make Long Beach an attractive destination for those thinking of relocating. Seniors in particular have discovered Long Beach makes an ideal retirement destination, with a welcoming atmosphere and many amenities often associated with larger communities, including a senior center, a yacht club and a small-craft harbor.

Long Beach is governed by a mayor and a council composed of six elected aldermen. For more information contact the Long Beach Chamber at 228-863-6666.

graphicPass Christian

Pass Christian, a charming oceanfront community of about 6,500, has long been known for its beautiful homes. In the 1930s, many of its residents were commuters who worked in New Orleans. That was a long way to travel in those days, but Pass Christian’s special appeal made it worthwhile.

Pass Christian was discovered by French-Canadian explorers in 1699, shortly after the first French colony was established in Biloxi. The community was named for the deep-water pass in the Mississippi Sound.

Many of Pass Christian’s beautiful waterfront homes date back to the 1850s, an era of great prosperity for the city. Although it was known primarily as a vacation getaway, it soon gained importance as a regional trading center.

After the Civil War, local business got an additional boost from a new rail line that passed through Pass Christian from New Orleans to Mobile.

The seafood industry has been an anchor in the local economy for many years. The oyster reef that lies just offshore is among the largest on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

graphicThe city’s Scenic Drive Historic District offers a glimpse of Pass Christian’s earlier days, with more than 100 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Another historic site, the Pass Christian Yacht Club, was formed in 1849 and is the second-oldest yacht club in North America, just behind New York, the oldest.

Pass Christian is governed by a mayor and five elected aldermen. Its Police Department employs about 25 people full-time, and the Fire Department has about 20 employees.

Pass Christian is a vibrant community that cherishes its heritage, enjoys a strong civic spirit, and appreciates the importance of maintaining a good quality of life. For more information, contact the Pass Christian Chamber at 228-452-2252.

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