This Friday, May 12th at Hollywood Casino, a community luncheon will be held to present the results of the business retention and expansion surveys of prime and service industries in Hancock County. Registration opens at 11:30am in the Ballroom and the luncheon meeting will be from 12noon – 1pm.
Sixty surveys were conducted and from these interviews issues affecting business and industry emerged around public and private services and the workforce. The surveys also captured information about future expansions and renovations expected in the coming year.
The survey is part of the newly established Hancock County Business Retention and Expansion Program (BRE), a partnership of the Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission and the Hancock Chamber of Commerce with support from the Hancock Community Development Foundation.
“Research shows that existing businesses represent 70-80% of new investment and job creation in a community,” said Bill Cork, CEO of the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission. “Through this partnership with the Chamber, we will be able to offer a great resource to our businesses and elected officials.”
The program was launched last September. Teams representing the Port & Harbor Commission, the Chamber and Foundation joined together with the 2017 Leadership Class to conduct the interviews.
“Through the interview process, we are establishing and maintaining solid working relationships with our existing businesses,” said Stephen Schruff of Mississippi Power Company, who chairs the BRE program for the Hancock Chamber.
Schruff says the program is important for fostering a better understanding of businesses to gain insight that can be used to identify supplier linkages and to create new intra-county business relationships. A strong BRE program returns investment to the community, is less costly than recruitment programs, promotes partnerships in economic growth with the decision-makers, and supports business recruitment.
Through the process, the Port and Harbor Commission and the Chamber hope to increase understanding of the Hancock County business community and provide company investors with the opportunity to learn more about the community’s commitment to retaining and expanding existing businesses and industries.
“We will make it a top priority to be an excellent resource for our existing business and industry,” said Tish Williams, executive director of the Hancock Chamber. “When a company comes to the Chamber, the Port and Harbor Commission or any of our governmental partners, if we do not immediately know the answer, we will be able to either provide a contact or we will research and find the answer ourselves.”
Examples of assistance could include: fast frack permitting, both state and local; employment issues; utility issues; serving as a liaison to local, state and federal officials; workforce issues; advocating on issues important to local industries and small businesses in the areas of transportation, regulations, and policy matters; identifying sites and buildings available for expanding business and industry; and conducting regular visits with existing businesses and industries to continue improving the business environment.
During the luncheon, the Port and Harbor Commission and Chamber will introduce initiatives they are launching to address the issues that have emerged from the survey. Bill Cork will announce a new workforce initiative and Tish Williams will announce the goals for the new Small Business Development Council.
“Through this program we will work together with elected officials to make Hancock County an opportune place for business and industry,” said Cork.
If you would like to attend the luncheon, contact the Hancock Chamber at 228-467-9048 or go online to www.hancockchamber.org to register. Tickets are $50 per person and table sponsorships are also available.
This event is sponsored by the Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission, the Hancock Chamber of Commerce, SouthGroup Gulf Coast Insurance Services, the Silver Slipper Casino and Hotel, Hancock Medical Center, a member of the Ochsner Health System, The Peoples Bank, Mississippi Power Company, and the Hollywood Casino.