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Hancock Co., Miss. – May 16, 2024 – The Hancock Chamber of Commerce held its annual Midyear Meeting, known as “Business Over Brunch,” on Thursday, May 16th, at Hollywood Casino – Gulf Coast. Set over a gorgeous champagne brunch and scored by live jazz, the program provided a concise yet comprehensive update on all things Hancock County. With 320 people in attendance, the meeting was filled with up-to-date reports from the Hancock County Board of Supervisors and the Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission.

The highlights of the program, though, were announcing Regan Kane as the 2024 Jody Compretta Person of Passion, Mary M. Perkins as Board Member Emeritus and the 16 recipients of the 2024 Small Business Grants.

Regan Kane Named the 2024 Jody Compretta Person of Passion Award

The Jody Compretta Person of Passion Award is the Hancock Chamber’s highest award. It is chosen by an internal committee and offered to a Chamber member with outstanding service to the organization, the community and of upstanding character. It is presented in memory of Jody Compretta, a Past Board President and overall exemplary individual who made a significant impact on the community. This year’s recipient is Regan Kane, Owner/Broker of John McDonald Realty.

Kane has been a leader of the real estate industry since 1998, specializing in both residential and commercial. A long-time member of the Hancock Chamber Board of Directors, he became involved in the community at a young age supporting philanthropic efforts and serving as president of the Bay St. Louis Rotary in the aftermath of Katrina. He was also president of the Hancock County Tourism Commission. He led the effort for the development of the successful Hancock My Home relocation campaign to attract primary and secondary home buyers. Because of his problem solving approach to development and through his selfless promotion of other businesses, he is responsible for engaging others to invest and redevelop the Bay Area to create jobs and build the tax base. In 2016, he was recognized by the Hancock Chamber of Commerce as one of our Top 10 Outstanding Citizens. In 2020, he was recognized as a Top 10 Community Leader on the Coast. During his term as Chamber President working with the City of Bay St. Louis, he was instrumental in establishing a new home for the Chamber and the Business Resource Center at Historic City Hall.

Mary Perkins Named Board Member Emeritus

Mary M. Perkins was named a Board Member Emeritus to the Hancock Chamber Board of Directors. Perkins has been a board member since 2000 and has seen the organization through many transitions. Even as a brand new board member she stepped up to provide the leadership necessary to restructure the organization, ensure its financial solvency, and hire a new executive director. She earned the nickname “Tiger” for her determination to drive the Chamber forward and see it succeed. She also served on the Chamber’s Education Committee, overseeing the Annual Classroom Grant program. She is the longest serving member of the Hancock Chamber Board of Directors and is the first and only person to be named a lifetime board member with emeritus status.

Small Business Grants

The Hancock County Community Development Foundation announced the recipients of its 2024 round of Small Business Grants. Thanks to an $80,000 donation from the Mississippi Power Foundation, 16 grants for $5,000 each were awarded to small businesses serving Hancock County. The businesses receiving grants are:

Amur Aesthetics, Hairworks, Bay Life Gifts, La Terre Farms, LLC, Breath’s Boats & Motors, The Mystic Ghost Ride Company, Doescher Designs, PLLC, Skydweller US, Dragonfly in the Bay, unAbridged Architecture, PLLC, Fleurty Girl, Waterslides of the Coast, French Potager, WorkWise, Get Stitched & Printed, and Gotcha Covered.

Key points shared in today’s presentations include:

Hancock County

  • Hancock County has completed 10 bridge construction progress since 2020. They received approval for the North Railroad Avenue Bridge with an expected construction date of Spring 2025.  
  • They completed 8 drainage projects valued at $4.6 million. Pending projects include Crazy Horse Drive, Bayside Park Phase 2 and Firepower Road for a total of $3.9 million.
  • They overlaid 20 miles of roadways in 2023 at a cost of $1.6 million and will overlay 14 miles in 2024 at a cost of $1.1 million.
  • Construction on the Multipurpose Arena will begin in early October at $20.2 million. 
  • Improvements will include development of the 74-acre site, improving drainage and lighting, 135 spaces for recreational vehicles, 500 spaces for passenger vehicles, improved fairgrounds area, a new 86,000 sq. ft. arena that will accommodate 2200 people.  Improvements will include modifications to support additional horse stalls, a covered warm-up arena, lighting and power, restroom upgrades, a 40,000 sq. Ft. barn and a horse wash-down station.
  • The Beach/Dune Restoration project will begin in 2025, which will add an additional 300,000 cubic yards of sand, more dunes and vegetation. Hancock County’s share in the project is 35%, or $3.5 million. The remainder will be funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Port & Harbor Commission

  • The Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission is overseeing $67.3 million in projects, with $34.45 million being invested at Port Bienville and $32.85 million at Stennis International Airport. 
  • Stennis International Airport tenants Skydweller brought in the world’s largest unmanned airplane to Hancock County and successfully launched its first autonomous flight. HCPHC is exploring possibilities for further hangar development to secure their base operations at the airport.

Hancock County Community Development Foundation

  • 2023-24 was another banner year for the Hancock County Heritage Star program, with 6 installed since the last meeting. Dedicated stars include Officer Branden Estorffe, Sgt. Steven Robin, Charles Gray, Camille Tate, Fred Haise and the 600 families who paved the way to build NASA’s Stennis Space Center. There are now 15 Heritage Stars throughout Hancock County.
  • HCCDF utilized the $10,000 Coast Electric Operation Round-Up Grant received at last year’s midyear meeting to purchase furniture and A/V equipment for the Business Resource Center located on the first floor of the Chamber Offices at 300 S. 2nd Street. The BRC can accommodate up to 50 people for meetings and events. It is available for use at no cost for nonprofits and governmental entities and a very reasonable rate for businesses.
  • Awarded $80,000 in small business grants. More information below.

Hancock Chamber of Commerce

  • Between the Hancock Chamber and its sister organization, Partners for Stennis & Michoud, we report membership of 1,800 people representing 517 businesses.
  • The Chamber hosted 17 ribbon cuttings, 5 Power Hour Lunch Breaks, 5 Power Hour Coffee Calls, 4 open houses, 2 groundbreakings and graduated the 27th Leadership Class with the Class of 2023-24 on deck to graduate on June 3rd.
  • The 6 Chamber of Commerce Committees execute an astounding amount of work. The highlights of committee work include the Education Committee’s Classroom Grant program, which awards $10,000 in grants each year; the Beautification Committee’s tree planting project, which planted $5,000 in trees and the renaissance of Hancock Young Professionals.
  • The 2024 Chamber Trip will commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day with a trip to the Normandy and Champagne regions of France. The trip is open to the public and will take place Oct. 3rd – 11th.
  • Nominations for Businesses of the Year, Nonprofit of the Year and Outstanding Citizens will go live on at 12 noon on Friday, May 17th. Winners will be honored at the Salute to Business & Industry Awards Gala on Thursday, Aug. 22nd at Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast.
  • Stennis Day in the Bay is now rebranded as Port Air Space Day in the Bay, with the Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission coming in as the title sponsor. It will take place in conjunction with Bud & Burgers in the Bay on Saturday, Nov. 9th from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Historic Hancock County Courthouse on Main Street.
  • The Hancock Chamber will celebrate its 100th Anniversary throughout the year 2025. Full details will be revealed at the Chamber’s official 99th birthday party on November 7th from 5 – 7. The birthday party is hosted by Hancock Whitney and the Bay-Waveland Yacht Club.

Event Sponsors:

  • Presenting: Hancock Chamber of Commerce, Hancock County Community Development Foundation, Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast, Hancock County Board of Supervisors, and the Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission.
  • Platinum: Chiniche Engineering & Surveying, Community Bank, Coast Electric, City of Diamondhead, Hancock Whitney, John McDonald Realty, Mississippi Power, Neel Schaffer, The Longo Group, Silver Slipper Casino Hotel, and Southern Mississippi Planning & Development District.


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