Biloxi and the Mississippi Coast are home to a 26-mile sand beach, billed as the world's longest manmade beach. The sugar-white strip, which divides U.S. 90 and the Mississippi Sound, offers a variety of activities and amenities. You'll find jet skies, wave runners, sailboats, skiffs, beach chairs, volleyball and umbrellas -- all available for rent at nominal fees from beach vendors. A number of hotels and campgrounds line U.S. 90 in Biloxi, offering easy access to the beach.
Biloxi, Miss., the Gulf Coast's most progressive and exciting community. On this peninsula, you will experience the same colorful tapestry of sights, sounds, and smells that has captivated this area's inhabitants for almost 300 years. On the sandy shores of the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, Biloxi stands as one of the oldest cities in the United States. Biloxi boasts a fascinating history, having first been settled by the French looking for the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Excellent schools, hospitals, and housing facilities make Biloxi an attractive place to potential residents as well as guests. The arts are alive and well in the city's new Cultural Center and library system. In addition to the seafood industry, employment has had an ever-diversifying industrial scene, as well as at Keesler Air Force Base, the largest electronics center in the world. Located in the heart of the city, Keesler brings people from all over the world to Biloxi.
Dubbed the "Playground of the South," the Mississippi Gulf Coast is fast becoming the best vacation value in North America. Most of the hotel accommodations and tourist attractions are concentrated within the Biloxi City limits and national recognition of the city's name benefits the entire coast tourism industry. Of course, most of Biloxi's attractions and hotel accommodations lie either on or near the water. There's something about a long stretch of soft white sand and the sound of waves lapping against the shore that beckons both those seeking serenity and those searching for excitement. Stretch out on the beach and "soak up some rays," as we say in Biloxi or get you heart racing on a jet ski. There are also sailboat and paddle boat rentals, wade fishing and deep sea fishing, volleyball, you name it. If it can be done on a beach it is done in Biloxi.
Even if you aren't inclined to enjoy the water sports Biloxi has to offer, there are other things to do. Perhaps golf is more your game. With 19 courses open to public, you'll easily find one for your level of play. Or, try your hand at fishing in local waters. Wade fish off the front beach or do it up big time with a charter boat trip to deep water and challenge big fish in a one-on-one competition. Perhaps you would prefer a more serene day in Biloxi. We have plenty of other things to do to satisfy your tastes. Take the self-guided walking tour of historic downtown Biloxi. You'll find museums, art galleries, unique gift and specialty shops, historical sites, stately homes and charming architecture. For the real history buff, visit Beauvior, the last home of Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederacy. Here you'll see life in 1880's marvel at the civil war antiques and memorabilia and enjoy a quiet moment in the gardens or the cemetery of Civil War veterans.
If you are the type whose senses are heightened after sunset, you'll enjoy Biloxi at night. The "strip" comes alive with action. Casino gaming will dazzle you with all types of games of chance. The sound of coins clicking into a slot machine tray will hold your attention, to be sure. Most of the casinos also offer live entertainment so feel free to dance the night away. Other casinos have spectacular Las Vegas shows; extravaganzas of music, dancing, magic and comedy.
Quality of Life
What a unique community Biloxi is! Its many ethnic groups have all contributed to the cultural heritage of this 300-year-old city. What they all share in common is a laissez le bon temp roule (let the good times roll) attitude. In other words Biloxians have a joie de vivre (a joy of life) that is reflected in its many festivals, parades and celebrations. To be sure, Biloxi is a great place to live. There’s more to consider however than our mild climate and prime location on the Gulf of Mexico. The City offers a quality of life unsurpassed in the Deep South.
The terrific climate of Biloxi means year round recreation. In addition to the 19 public golf courses open year round, and dozens of charter boats, the City also maintains five multi-purpose community centers, 28 parks, 13 baseball and softball fields, four soccer fields (with more on the way). There are also thirteen tennis courts, 3 gymnasiums, a senior citizen center and several public fishing piers. Biloxi also boasts the only Olympic-size, all weather natatorium in the state. The Community and Economic Development Department oversees seven museums including the unique Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum and the newly completed George E. Ohr Arts and Cultural Center. The Saenger Theatre for the Performing Arts is home to the Gulf Coast Opera and the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra.
Biloxi is one of the safest cities in the south in which to live. Gaming tax revenues have allowed the city to add 50-60 officers to its police force and to purchase over 80 new police cruisers. New computers allow the Police Department to more effectively administer its programs. The City Fire Department is the best trained in the state and also has some of the newest state-of-the-art equipment. The city currently mans six stations throughout the city A new Public Safety Complex to house both Police and Fire Headquarters will be constructed in 1998.
Biloxi is particularly proud of its school system, ranked in the top ten in Mississippi. Currently, there are seven elementary schools (grades k-6), three junior high schools (grades 7-9) and one high school (grades 10-12). However, the school district has just unveiled a $54 million expansion and renovation plan. The plan calls for the construction of a new elementary school, razing and reconstructing two other elementary schools and the transformation of a junior high school into a Family Life Center. A city wide school will replace the three junior high schools by renovating the existing high school for that use. A new high school will also be built along with a new sports complex. Remaining elementary schools will undergo renovations. All of this transformation will take place in the next five years.
Biloxi Schools offer a comprehensive curriculum ranging from remedial education to advanced learning. There are a number of special programs with emphasis on technology-centered courses. At the high school students can follow a college preparatory, regular or vocational-technical program of study. The vo-tech center at Biloxi High offers everything from auto mechanics to welding. There are 6400 students enrolled in Biloxi schools with a student/teacher ratio of 19. The district expends $4,950 per student with total expenditures at $34.7 million. In 1997, Biloxi students earned an impressive $2 million in scholarships.
Parochial schools operated by the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi have a long and proud tradition of quality education. There are two Catholic elementary schools in Biloxi and one secondary school (grades 7-9). Other schools in neighboring cities compliment these.
Healthcare is growing rapidly in Biloxi. Almost all medical specialties can be found in Biloxi, thanks to an influx of medical professionals who are moving to the area at an increasing rate. Two hospitals, Biloxi Regional Medical Center and Coast Community Hospital are expanding rapidly to meet the needs of the community. No longer is it necessary for Coastians to travel to New Orleans or Jackson for specialized medical attention.
For military retirees, Keesler Air Force Base operates the second largest hospital in the U.S. Air Force. It recently won the highest civilian accreditation ratings available and also offers a variety of specialty programs, including the only genetics laboratory in the Department of Defense. The cost of living in Biloxi is quite reasonable despite its phenomenal growth in recent years. Strong competition in most areas of commerce have kept prices below national averages in almost all categories. Housing in Biloxi experienced a 22.5% increase between 1993 and 1996 but home prices are stabilizing. Currently, the average price of a home in Biloxi is $93,399. Average days on the market is 128 and list to sell ratio is $95%.
The latest survey on multi-family housing indicates that there are 4.066 market-rent apartments in Biloxi. The apartment market has softened in the last year providing some relief for consumers. Average rent for a two bedroom apartment in Biloxi is $503. It is interesting to note that in the last five years, Biloxi has reduced its property taxes on three occasions!
Biloxi is also a great place to retire. In recent years, Biloxi has been named in every major list of great places to retire. Healthcare, housing, cultural activities and safety are among the major factors used to make this determination. For military retirees there is the benefit of living near Keesler Air Force Base and the Naval Construction Battalion Center. Retirees have add so much to the community and they are always welcome.
Biloxi welcomes newcomers with open arms. As a matter of fact, between 1990 and 1995 the city’s population grew by 15%, making Biloxi one of the fastest growing cities in America. Join us here on the Gulf of Mexico and become a part of the excitement.
To say that business is booming in Biloxi would be an understatement. Since the conception of dockside gaming in 1992, the city has enjoyed growth unsurpassed by all but a few cities such as Las Vegas. Building on the economic contributions of the seafood and maritime industry and government employment, gaming and tourism grown consistently to provide the local area with a low unemployment rate, hundreds of new business enterprises and tax revenues capable of meeting the needs of a growing and prosperous city.
Biloxi is business friendly with a strong Economic and Community Development Department that strives to make it possible for new business enterprises to succeed. In recent years, Biloxians have seen new products and services come to the area that before, were only available in other locations like New Orleans and Jackson. All indications is that the economic center of Mississippi is shifting to the Gulf Coast.
The City of Biloxi has an civilian labor force of 19,040 which draws from six coastal counties. Employment growth is largely the result of the strong tourism/gaming and lodging industries and support services for medical and government installations. Government itself is worth noting, accounting for almost one-fourth of all civilian, non-farm employment. This is attributed to the presence of Keesler Air Force Base, as well as military, research and other federal and state government installations in the area. Light industrial and technological manufacturing is growing as well, most of it in other parts of Harrison county.
In spite of smaller harvests from local waters, Biloxi has maintained its prominence on the national level as a seafood processor by utilizing imported seafood. It is a fact that U.S. consumption of seafood now stands at a record 3.95 billion pounds per year, indicating a growing demand as Americans now consider seafood as a regular part of healthy diet. Since adjoining states have never developed the infrastructure for processing, Mississippi has taken the lead with Biloxi the center of the seafood industry in the state. This translates into Biloxi participating in a global market.
Biloxi’s seafood industry has evolved from harvesting and processing to processing and marine support.The city services, repairs and supplies a local fishing fleet of approximately 500 vessels and provides the same for a transient fleet of equal size. The Seafood industry is now a $400 million dollar industry on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with an estimated full-time work force between 2,000 and 3,000 with a similar number of part-time or seasonal jobs. The fishing fleets employs an estimated 1,500 people.
Today, after a one hundred years as the cornerstone of Biloxi’s economy, the seafood industry is challenged only by dockside gaming. Both vie for prime waterfront locations. Now most of the county’s twelve processing plants are located on less than a two mile stretch along Biloxi’s Back Bay and Point Cadet.
In 1940, Keesler Air Force Base opened on a 3,600 acre tract within the city limits. Today, it is home to the Headquarters, 2nd Air Force, the 81st Training Wing and the 403rd Wing, U.S. Air Force Reserve. Largely, a technical training facility, personnel from all branches of the service train here in such courses as air traffic control, radar, telecommunications, personnel and supply, computer operations and space systems management. Tactical airlift operations and weather reconaissance missions are also conducted out of Keesler.
Currently, Keesler’s economic impact on the Mississippi Coast equals $1.1 billion dollars. This includes a military payroll of $321 million, a civilian payroll of $123 million and retiree salaries of $139 million. Local contracts initiated through Keesler include $68 million in construction (with a large increase coming as new dormitories are being built now); services of $42 million; commissary/BX of $7.9 million; health of $3.7 million; temporary billeting of $6.5 million and educational impact aid funds of $3 million.
Keesler has a total work force of 18,821. Uniformed personnel has remained constant at 11,521. The number of secondary/indirect jobs created by Keesler is approximately 4,302. Other government facilities in the area include the Naval Consruction Battalion Center, the U. S. Naval Retirement Home, the "Blue Lightning" headquarters of the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Navy Homeport at Pascagoula, (with guided missle frigrates) and two Veterans Adminstration Hospitals, one in Biloxi and one in nearby Gulfport.
The John C. Stennis Space Center is home to NASA’s prime center for testing and certifying large rocket propulsion systems for the Space Shuttle, and the Naval Oceanographic Office. Coast Guard bases at Stennis and Gulfport and the new Navy SEALS training center in nearby Pearl River County, round out the major military installations on the Gulf Coast.
There are federal courthouses in both Biloxi and Gulfport. The District and Regional offices of state and federal agencies such as Small Business Administration, Internal Revenue Service Farmers Home Adminsitration and others are also located in Biloxi or Gulfport. Another important new development is the $10 million renovation of the old Howard Memorial Hospital on the Back Bay of Biloxi by the State of Mississippi to be used as a state office building.
The Mississippi gaming industry has provided a significant impact on the state economy since its inception in 1992. Gross gaming revenues for 1996 totaled $2.2 billion. The states 34 casinos employ in excess of 31,567 employees. The City of Biloxi has been the leader in this new industry. Eight of the Gulf Coast’s eleven casinos are located in Biloxi and generate 35% of the state’s gaming revenues. Presently under construction are the Beau Rivage which will inlcude a 1800 room 28 story hotel, with showroom, numerous shops and restaurants. Beau Rivage will open in the fall of 1998. On Back Bay, the Imperial Palace will open in January 1998 with 1200 rooms and 30 stories. Other casinos are in the planning and licensing stages.
Trade continues to be the largest growth sector in Biloxi’s economy. City sales tax collections for Biloxi in 1996 reached $8.1 million. The leading retail center is Edgewater Mall, which contains 115 stores including four department stores. A recent expansion increased square footage to 900,000 square feet. Rental rates at this mall range from $8 to $25 per square feet.
The Vieux Marche in Biloxi’s Central Business District, previously a pedestrian mall has been reopened to vehicular traffic and has experienced signficant redevelopment and revitalization. Anchored by four large banks, the county and federal courthouses and Biloxi Regional Medical Center, attracts office dwelling services and professional in many fields especially law, medicine, insurance and real estate. Retail in the CBD is based upon specialty shops which take advantage of the unique architecture and historical preservation which drives downtown development. Food and beverage outlets are also prospering in the CBD.
In 1981, the City of Biloxi and the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce established the Greater Biloxi Economic Development Foundation (GBEDF). The GBDEF is a private non-profit corporation funded by investor contributions from Biloxi’s banking and business community. The GBEDF manages the Gulf Coast Business Technology Center, an incubator for new or flailing businesses. it also offers a variety of business services such as seminars. The 33,000 sq. foot facility is owned by the Harrison County Development Commission.