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
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
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
"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
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