GoCoast 2020 Meets to Discuss How to Spend BP Money

The GoCoast 2020 team is inching closer to determining how to use the money coming to Mississippi from the BP Restore Act.

Wednesday, the more than 100 community members and leaders appointed to the team met to present their ideas and discuss priorities to move South Mississippi forward.

“The substance of the report is just tremendous,” MDEQ Executive Director Trudy Fisher said. “When you look at the different categories of the teams and the work they’ve done, it’s just quite impressive.”

The governor focused the commission on eight areas: tourism, infrastructure, eco-restoration, seafood, small business, workforce development, economic development and education and research.

While each group has different ideas on how to spend what is expected to be hundreds of thousands of dollars, all leaders acknowledged the focus areas all go hand in hand.

“What we heard, without the teams talking to each other, there was a clear recognition of how they all built one upon another,” Fisher said.

Gulfport Mayor George Schlogel is head of the Small Business committee. “We think everything done by small businesses will be impacted by all the rest of the committees on the 2020 go team,” Schlogel said.

Another re-occurring theme was sustainability.

Senator Michael Watson who heads the infrastructure committee said, “You have got to focus on and make sure that these are revenue generating, revenue creating so the state doesn’t have to be strapped on the back end with maintaining them.”

So while every committee has a different mission, all understand this is an opportunity to build a better Gulf Coast.

Next week there are three opportunities for you to give you input on how the money should be spent: Tuesday at MGCCC in Gautier, Wednesday at the Long Beach Community Center and Thursday at the Bay St. Louis Community Hall. All the meetings begin are from 6pm to 8pm.

While the meeting offered no specific projects or programs, the group faces a deadline of January 2013 to send a report to the governor. To see the slideshow presented, visit: http://www.gocoast2020.com/gocoast-2020-goteam-update/ .

– By Michelle Lady, WLOX

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