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Hurley

NE Jackson Co. seeing growth

By APRIL M. HAVENS

The Mississippi Press

HURLEY, Miss. (AP) - More people means more businesses for the

historically quiet communities of northeast Jackson County, and

locals have supported the slow but steady growth, community leaders

say.

Business owners say an influx of residents in the aftermath of

Hurricane Katrina help sustain their ventures, and customers are

always willing to show support.

"They will definitely come to your restaurant or store before

they go out of town," said Tracy Cochran, a managing partner of

Sassy's, a restaurant, bakery and catering company that opened in

late 2006.

Monica Bush, owner of Southern Delight Cafe, agreed.

"I think the people of Hurley are very loyal and try to support

all businesses around here," she said.

Bush has enjoyed a steady stream of customers since opening the

restaurant in March, she said.

"I like taking care of my hometown people and anyone else who

drags in," she said.

Cochran and Sassy's managing partner, Sharla Holder, who

attended high school together in Hurley, listed new additions in

the community since Katrina, including two oil and lube shops, a

new community newspaper, TNT Video expansions, more bank branches,

and three new gift shops, among others.

Holder said she thinks Hurley's growth is just starting, though.

"There's so much growth potential because the people are here,

so now the businesses are coming," she said.

"And there's so much more than just business growth;

subdivisions are popping up all over," Cochran said.

Supervisor Manly Barton said the area's evolution, while

difficult to quantify, is easily seen through increased demands in

the school district and in recreation.

"Demand for programs like pee wee football and soccer are so

high, it's a challenge to stay ahead of it," said Barton, who

represents the area on the county board of supervisors.

The area includes communities east of the Pascagoula River

including Big Point, Cumbest Bluff, Escatawpa, Forts Lake, Franklin

Creek, Harleston, Helena, Hurley, Orange Grove and portions of

Vancleave, Moss Point, Pascagoula, Pecan and Wade.

Paul Thompson, executive vice president at Merchants & Marine

Bank, said the bank system has seen an increase in customers in the

area.

"We've seen a population shift to the Wade, Hurley and Big

Point area," he said. "It's evidenced by the businesses that are

popping up because you've got the local flavor and some national

business there too. If you look around at the construction activity

in Jackson County, a lot of it is up there in the Hurley area."

Barbara Martin, a Wade resident who is active in community

events, said she thinks Lum Cumbest Park and the Whispering Pines

Golf Course help draw people to the area.

"It has drawn a lot of people up this way for those

amenities," Martin said. "And with the combination of a great

school system and recreation, it just draws families."

When Martin moved to Jackson County in 1986, there was one

grocery store in Hurley, but not much else, she said.

"It has grown now to the point to where there's a medical

center, three pharmacies, two grocery stores and several

restaurants," she said. "Both intersections of Mississippi

(Highway) 63 at Mississippi 613 and Mississippi 614 are very

active."

Business owners and county leaders agree Hurley and other

northeast county communities will continue to grow as companies

come online to meet the growing population's demand.

"Somebody is looking at those growth patterns and trying to

fill a need," Barton said. "I think we'll continue to see slow

but constant growth. I don't think we're going to see a flood, but

it'll be slowly but surely."

---

Information from: The Mississippi Press, http://www.gulflive.com

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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