PASCAGOULA — The list of recent achievements for the business community in Pascagoula is long. And with good reason.
Through careful planning and attention to detail, city and business leaders have shrugged off the economic slowdown that has affected most municipalities in the state.
“We’ve been swamped with more calls than usual,” said John D. Jones, president of John Jones & Associates Inc. in Pascagoula, a commercial and residential real estate firm. “Business has been very, very good.”
Last year, the coastal city of Pascagoula with a population of 26,200, located on the Mississippi Sound in Jackson County (population 131,420), hired a full-time economic development director and a full-time Main Street manager to administer the city’s new Main Street Program. In January, Kay Johnson, a CPA and former chief administrative officer for Picayune and former director of administration and municipal clerk for Bay St. Louis, was named Pascagoula’s new city manager.
And last year, 121 new business licenses were issued in Pascagoula.
“We’re cutting ribbons for new businesses at a rate of one or two per week — a very good sign,” said Pascagoula Mayor Joe Cole.
In his “State of the City” address at a Rotary luncheon in January, Cole cited several reasons for the city’s fiscal health: sound financial management of tax dollars, a progressive attitude, asserting and facilitating changes and improvements and partnering with other government agencies and the private sector.
For example, the millage rate has steadily decreased since 1992, from 49.17 to 39.01.
“The pro-business climate in Pascagoula has facilitated growth and development,” Cole said. “The partnering between the public and private sector has reaped dividends for Pascagoula and its citizens. We’ll stay the course for the future.”
Known primarily for its shipbuilding, oil refining and chemical base, Pascagoula’s top employers include BP Amoco Pascagoula Gas Plant, Chevron Pascagoula Refinery, Consolidated Pipe, First Chemical Corp., Friede Goldman Offshore, Ingalls Shipbuilding, Mississippi Phosphates, Naval Station Pascagoula, Singing River Hospital System and T.C. Broome Construction.
Its industrial firms include Litton Ship Systems Full Service Center, Jamestown Metal Marine Warehouse and Hopeman Brothers. The Joiner Team (TJT) recently made a $1-million investment in Pascagoula.
New developments reflect a diverse mix of small businesses and national chains.
“My bread and butter is mom-and-pop business development,” said Jones. “Even with the recent flurry of activity, there are lots of projects still to come. There’s no slowing down in sight.”
Jones said residential sales have averaged an increase of 5% over the previous year and said office rental rates — from $6.50 to $12.50 per square foot — have leveled off.
New hotels include Studio Inn and Howard Johnson Express; the city’s first bed and breakfast was recently approved. New restaurants include Matthew’s Downtown, Fayard’s Po-Boys, Taco Bell and Dairy Queen.
On April 30, Shelby Brunt, a retired nurse, will open Garden Caf