Chamber eyes tourism, mulls plan to buy Bay office building
By Dwayne Bremer
Jan 31, 2014, 17:36
During the Hancock Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting an exceptional person was honored with this year’s Jody Compretta Person of Passion Award. This year’s winner is Hancock County School District’s Cathy Wilson for her dedication to the promotion and betterment of education in Hancock County. In this photo from left are, Jody’s wife Maria Compretta, last year’s winner Judith Redshaw, this year’s winner Cathy Wilson, Jody’s parents Mrs. And Mr. Compretta and Hancock Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tish Williams.
The Hancock County Chamber of Commerce hosted its 88th annual meeting Friday morning at the Diamondhead Country Club, outlining several strategies for continued economic success.
Chief among the Chambers' plans for 2014 is an increase in tourism marketing to help bring visitors and businesses to Hancock County.
"People come here to play and then guess what?" Chamber Executive Director Tish WIlliams said. "They end up moving here."
Williams said the Chamber has identified three areas which she believes it can use to better promote the area.
Those areas include advertising, relocation of businesses and residents, and the scenic by-ways of the community.
Chamber President Clay Wagner said another exciting venture on the horizon is the Health Care Zone Act, which provides benefits for certain types of businesses which locate within five miles of a qualifying hospital.
Hancock Medical Center is a qualifying hospital; however, a lot of the land in the radius is not hospitable for development.
Wagner said the Chamber is working with state leaders on trying to redefine Hancock County's zone. Another issue the Chamber is lobbying state leaders for is an extension in the two percent hotel/motel tax.
The tax apparently expires this year and if it is not renewed, it could have dire consequences for tourism on the Coast, he said. Williams said the Chamber is also looking to branch out into different areas of the county.
Last week, the Diamondhead City Council approved the placement of a kiosk machine at city hall. Williams said she will be asking Waveland to grant a similar request next month.
The Chamber also announced for the first time Friday that it will attempt to purchase the current Chamber building on Court Street in Bay St. Louis.
The building, the former city hall, is owned by the city, which has asked that the Chamber begin paying rent next year.
In 2006, the Bay St. Louis City Council passed a resolution declaring several properties surplus, including the Court Street building, to offset a $20 million loan.
The properties were never sold because part of the loan was forgiven and grant funds were used to purchase the new city hall on Highway 90.