Another year, another myopic and confusing ranking from a free-credit score website. 

Gulfport has more than $50 million in downtown development, is home to the Mississippi Aquarium, headquarters for Cruisin’ the Coast, and is one of the top vacation rental markets in the U.S. 

This and more dispute the annual listing by WalletHub of the Best and Worst Run Cities in America named Gulfport as number 10 in the “Worst” category. Oddly enough, in a June 2022 article, Wallet Hub ranks Gulfport as the 141st Best Run city in America out of thousands of cities. Looking closer at the actual “metrics” makes the ‘worst’ ranking appear highly suspect.

It didn’t help, when seeking clarification on their findings, that WalletHub officials rejected our request to discuss their research, process, and conclusions.

Unfortunately, for those who don’t recognize “click-bait” for what it is, this type of content occasionally gets passed along by the media as content and time filler.

Even more troubling is the small-print disclaimer stating, “we do not guarantee the accuracy of the information presented through our website.” Fortunately, we’re too busy around here to spend much effort responding to a hack job. Still, after multiple hits, “a lie unchallenged becomes the truth,” and it must be addressed.

“Through a relentless pursuit of opportunities, Gulfport is helping to transform the physical and economic profile of the state’s fastest-growing region.”

Mayor Billy Hewes

It does not take long to notice that the Mississippi’s Gulf Coast is experiencing a renewed vibrancy. Gulfport is enjoying a renaissance with over $1 billion in investments in the last decade encompassing commercial, hospitality, medical, military, education, business, and tourism sectors.  These developments haven’t happened by accident- it was the resolve of the City Council, Mayor, and staff to create a place that is “Open for Business, and Geared for a Good Time!”  It has been a classic team effort, fostering collaboration with public and private sector partners.

Economically, the city of Gulfport is gearing up, and many experts believe it is ready for takeoff. In 2018, Realtor.com named Gulfport one of the top 10 small cities poised to become a powerhouse. Numerous other publishers have highlighted Gulfport’s resilience, quality of place, and cost of living.  (i.e., “Best Places to Live” by Money Magazine – 2014; “The Nicest Place to live in Mississippi” Florence Gardens, Gulfport, by Readers Digest – 2020) Gulfport’s economic opportunities have also caught the eye of United States Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. In 2021, Raimondo visited Gulfport to tour the city and see firsthand what it has to offer.

“What you have in Mississippi is first rate and world class,” she said. “This is my first time to Mississippi and I had several, “I had no idea” moments. That’s a credit to you all.”

U.S. Secretary of Commerce , Gina Raimondo

Gulfport has faced many challenges in recent years, including Hurricanes Katrina, Zeta, and Ida, the BP Oil Spill, the national recession, COVID-19, and even Algae Blooms. However, the community has persevered and thrived, thanks to its well-known work ethic, diverse economic base, natural resources, and cultural and historical attractions. And Gulfport and the Gulf Coast are also home to award-winning cuisine, making the Secret Coast a paradise for foodies.

Did you know?

SmartAsset.com ranked Gulfport as the “Most Affordable Beach Town” in the United States for five consecutive years (2016 – 2020).  For the last two years, our sister city, Biloxi, has taken the top spot.  And this year, the coastal towns of Ocean Springs and Bay St. Louis were ranked #1 & #2 as the” Best Coastal Small Towns in America” by USA Today. Notably,  the MS Gulf Coast has consistently appeared in the top-10 rankings for affordability and livability.

Gulfport, or “Seabeetown USA” as it’s also called, is home to the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Center Gulfport (NMCB)– one of only two in the country. Our Armed Forces Retirement Home is also one of only two in the country. The Air National Guard Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) in Gulfport hosts regular training and deployments of Air National Guard units from across America.  Moreover, the steady presence of the U.S. Coast Guard in our small craft harbor provides security, safety, and interdiction along our coastal shoreline. Because of our commitment to supporting members of the armed services, the Navy Federal Credit Union, in concert with Operation Homefront, recognized Gulfport (and the surrounding coastal region) in the Top 10 communities as the “Best for Veterans” after service in 2021.

But there’s more to Gulfport.

Gulfport-Biloxi metro ranks as a top spot in the US for vacation rentals (2022)

Gulfport Harbor Lights Festival Named the Most Magical Show in Mississippi

(2018, 2019, 2020, 2022)

Ocean Aero moves from San Diego into a 67,000-square-foot warehouse at the Port of Gulfport (2021)

USA Today “Best New Attractions” (2020)
#4 Mississippi Aquarium

Cruisin’ The Coast voted the #1 Car Show in the nation by USA Today (2020,21)

Gulfport is home to the state’s only accredited Public Works Department, which, in addition to regular infrastructure operations and maintenance, is currently managing 100 miles of road resurfacing.  This is in concert with a $20 million federal BUILD grant project that will link our city’s northern and southern regions with a flyover across Interstate 10. And Gulfport’s innovative First Responders play leadership roles at the highest levels, achieving the highest community fire rating in Mississippi. 

Softball & Baseball All-Star World Series begin at Gulfport Sportsplex (2022)

Condos. Restaurants. Boutiques. Why Gulfport is a hot spot for new Coast development (2022)

Mississippi is all in on the Gulf Coast’s innovative Blue Economy (2021)

City of Gulfport approves 17 million dollars to pave 100 miles of roadway (2021)

Gulfport breaks ground on new pedestrian, bike, and tram bridge (2022)

Gulfport’s schools have a long history of educational excellence. Forty-one million dollars in renovations to multiple facilities, most notably Gulfport High School, has transformed Gulfport schools recently. As a result, the high school functions more like a college campus, with state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, and industry-specific career-path academies. In addition, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC), the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), and William Carey College all serve South Mississippi. 

Gulfport is often lauded for its municipal leadership at the individual and organizational levels and has received the following recent awards:

  • 2022 – Mississippi Municipal League (MML) Best Overall – Excellence in Public Works over 10,000 Population
  • 2020 – MML Best Overall – Excellence in Public Works over 10,000 Population
  • 2020 – MML Best Overall – Best Overall – Excellence in Planning & Economic Development
  • 2019 – US Conference of Mayors (USCM) – City Livability Award 
  • 2018 – USCM – City Livability Award 
  • 2017 – MML Best Overall – Excellence in Planning & Economic Development
  • 2017 – Mississippi Main Street Association – Innovation of Main Street Award 
  • 2017 – Main Street America – Innovation of Main Street Award
  • 2016 – American Public Works Association (APWA) – Department Accreditation 

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many neighborhoods were ravaged by flooding. The Bayou View West neighborhood in the 34th St. area repurposed 40 acres to bring to Gulfport a Community Garden, a Dog Park, a Nature Trail and Outdoor Classroom, a 17-acre Disc Golf Course and a 21-acre Bike Trail, all located at the new Brickyard Bayou Park. The new Brickyard Bayou Park has been an uplifting project to the surrounding neighborhood, offering amenities not found anywhere else in Gulfport or on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and creatively conforming to FEMA’s regulation. The goal of the park is to offer a completely unique tourist attraction that will have a positive economic impact on the community, as well as offer an improved quality of life through healthy living and educational activities for all of Gulfport’s residents and visitors.

– United States Conference of Mayor’s

On The Horizon

Gulfport is the beneficiary of a federal transit grant for constructing the CTA transit center and public Tram, Bicycle, and Pedestrian Bridge over U.S. Highway 90, thanks to a partnership with the Coast Transit Authority (CTA). This pivotal project connecting the Mississippi Aquarium campus to Mississippi’s Front Yard – the green space of Jones Park and Gulfport’s Municipal Harbor – is now a reality because of the unwavering determination and vision of local, state, and federal funding partners.          

Gulfport’s Job Corps Center has been helping our youth in low-mod areas for over fifty years, providing job skills training and education for generations. A recently-approved $43 million Department of Labor renovation project – incorporating elements of the historically significant 33rd Avenue High School – is underway, with work scheduled to be completed by 2024.

Since 1898, the historic seaport of Gulfport has been the center of commerce in South Mississippi and is home to multiple banks, law firms, businesses, and medical centers. Gulfport is also home to the headquarters of Mississippi Power Company and Hancock Whitney Bank. New investments have been injected into our economy consistently over the last ten years, showcasing a balance of medical, military, professional, tourism, retail, and entertainment components. Because of our coastal culture, diverse heritage, and more than a little because of our proximity to New Orleans, our restaurants are second-to-none, including one of the fastest growing restaurant chains in the country, the Half Shell Oyster House, based here in Gulfport.

The Mississippi Port at Gulfport is building a $600 million state-of-the-art port facility that will also be the Gulf-of-Mexico home to the nation’s next primary maritime Center of Excellence: The USM Roger F. Wicker Center for Ocean Enterprise (opening 2023). This research and development magnet will partner with the private sector, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVO), focusing on uncrewed marine systems and blue technology innovation. OceanAero is the first major private sector tenant to commit to this new initiative and is relocating from San Diego to Gulfport. A 67,000-square-foot research and manufacturing warehouse is currently under construction at the State Port that will be OceanAero’s new Gulfport home.

Gulfport Town Center

A $50 million mixed-use development with 200 luxury apartments is the latest downtown housing project under design. In addition, new housing starts are popping up all over the city, and short- and long-term rental markets are strong. Gulfport’s housing market is thriving­ but boasts a median housing cost still around half the national average.

Centennial Plaza

Centennial Plaza, a $90 million 50-acre beachfront development, is bringing new life to what was a blighted property with its two boutique hotels, water park, and frequent festivals. It’s also “Cruise Central” for America’s top classic car show – Cruisin’ the Coast. Centennial Plaza has become a game changer for beachgoers and destination weddings!

First-time visitors to Mississippi, often conditioned by stereotypes about the southern US, can be surprised by what the Coast offers. A bold public-private partnership began years ago, resulting in the Mississippi Aquarium arising from the remains of a church property that Hurricane Katrina destroyed. The Harbor Lights Winter Festival, attracting over 100,000 attendees between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, has been featured in multiple movies and named the Most Magical Show in Mississippi. Recently, the Gulfport Sportsplex hosted the 2021 SWAC fast-pitch softball tournament. The facility, which added professional-quality artificial turf, has expanded to become a youth sports destination and hosts year-round baseball, softball, and soccer tournaments with an annual economic impact of over $20 million.

We’re not done yet!

There’s more work to do, of course.  But, that is a hallmark of all dynamic communities.   A city doesn’t experience Gulfport’s consistent levels of investment, interest, and success by accepting the status quo or dwelling at the bottom of the barrel. With various cultures and cuisines, top-rated museums, an appealing year-round climate, easy transit times, barrier islands, miles and miles of sand beach, and steady ocean breezes, Gulfport is a hidden gem on Mississippi’s Secret Coast. And the only way to experience it is to see it personally.

That’s the only way to have the “I had no idea” realization instead of perpetuating prejudices that have no place in today’s South Mississippi. Whatever the case, we’ll stick with our proven track record. In one respect, we thank WalletHub for its persistent bullying. It has given us the opportunity to, once again, tell our story – and it’s a pretty good one!

We invite you to come to see it for yourself!

The City of Gulfport Office of Communications and Marketing is accepting applications for a Digital Content Specialist.

Position Overview

This position is under the general supervision of the Manager of Communications and Marketing and will work within this Office. The position implements social media strategies to raise public awareness and understanding of the City and its programs, facilities, opportunities, events, and overall brand and increase appreciation for the City with target audiences. This position also creates and assists with all content initiatives internal (website, organization collateral) and external (social media, user-generated content) across multiple platforms and formats to drive brand awareness and engagement for the citizens of Gulfport and potential visitors.

This position further amplifies the City’s approved brand identity by creating and curating content for all relevant social platforms, websites, email newsletters, and other marketing channels.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

Must possess the required knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience and be able to explain and demonstrate, with or without reasonable accommodations, that the essential functions of the job can be performed.
• Exceptional writing and editing skills, as well as the ability to adopt the style, tone, and voice of the City’s approved brand identity.
• High level of creativity, attention to detail, and project management skills.
• Deep knowledge of social media marketing.
• Active and well-rounded personal presence on social media, with a command of each network and best practices.
• Photo and video shooting and editing.
• Excellent communicator and creative thinker, with an ability to use both data and intuition to inform decisions.
• Solid understanding of SEO and content marketing.
• Good eye for design and the ability to source and edit images.
• Experience with Adobe Creative Suite.
• Experience in graphic design.
• Google AdWords and Google Analytics experience/certification a plus.

For more information contact:

Jase Payne, Manager – Office of Communications and Marketing | jpayne@gulfport-ms.gov

The City of Gulfport Department of Technology & Information is accepting applications for a Computer Support Specialist.

Position Overview

The Computer Support Specialist installs, modifies, and makes minor repairs to computer hardware and software systems and provides technical assistance and training to system users. 

Essential Job Functions

Essential duties and functions, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, May include the following. Other related duties may be assigned.

  • Installs, configures, and upgrades operating systems and software, using standard business and administrative packages; may modify specific applications for use in operational departments.
  • Installs, assembles and configures computers, monitors, network infrastructure, and peripherals such as printers, scanners, and related hardware; pulls cables and rewires or directs the rewiring of cables as required for new installations and office reconfiguration.
  • Troubleshoots problems with computer systems, including troubleshooting hardware and software, e-mail, network, and peripheral equipment problems; makes repairs and corrections where required.
  • Acts as a technical resource in assisting users to resolve problems with equipment and data; staffs a centralized help desk to facilitate the exchange of information and advice; implements solutions or notifies outsource providers as required.
  • Assists in instructing City staff in the use of standard business and administrative software, including word processing, spreadsheets, and database management; provides instruction or written documentation where required.
  • Maintains current knowledge of hardware, software, and network technology and recommends modifications as necessary.
  • Provides updates, status, and completion information to manager, problem request tracking system, and/or users, via voice mail, e-mail, or in-person communication.
  • Refers major hardware problems to service personnel for correction.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities 

  • Must possess the required knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience and be able to explain and demonstrate, with or without reasonable accommodations, that the essential functions of the job can be performed.
  • Must possess a thorough knowledge of computer hardware, software, and peripherals such as central processing units, servers, monitors, cables, network systems, printers, plotters, and modems.
  • Is thoroughly familiar with the functions, operations, and technology related to City financial, business, and administrative applications and related hardware and software.
  • Has knowledge of current technology related to City applications, networks, and telecommunications and the equipment and software required to maximize system support.
  • Understands procedures for installing, configuring, upgrading, troubleshooting, and repairing applicable software, hardware and peripherals.
  • Has in-depth knowledge of principles, practices, hardware, and software related to the establishment and maintenance of LAN’s and WAN’s.
  • Possess the verbal skills necessary for explaining technical concepts and procedures to non-technical users.
  • Must possess knowledge of installing, configuring, and upgrading operating systems and software.
  • Possesses the knowledge and ability of installing, configuring, assembling, and repairing computers, monitors, network infrastructure, and peripherals such as printers and related hardware.
  • Must be able to read, analyze, and interpret general business periodicals, professional journals, technical procedures, or governmental regulations.
  • Must possess the ability to write reports, business correspondence, and procedure manuals.
  • Must possess the ability to define problems, collect data, establish facts, and draw valid conclusions.
  • Must be able to interpret an extensive variety of technical instructions in mathematical or diagram form and deal with several abstract and concrete variables.

Education and Experience

Equivalent to completion of two years of college-level coursework in computer science, information technology or a related field and two years of general computer installation, maintenance and repair experience; or, an equivalent combination of education and experience sufficient to successfully perform the essential duties of the job as listed above.

Licenses or Certificates

A+ and Microsoft certifications preferred.

For more information contact:

Rick Fisher, Director – Technology & Information Management | rfisher@gulfport-ms.gov

The City of Gulfport Office of Communications and Marketing is accepting applications for a Community Relations Supervisor.

Position Overview

Under supervision and direction of the Manager of Communications and Marketing, the Community Relations Supervisor works within the Office of Communications and Marketing.

The principal duties of this position include overseeing the day-to-day interactions between the City of Gulfport and its community partners, assisting in developing, maintaining, and expanding relationships with community organizations, leaders, and representatives.

In addition, supporting the City’s marketing initiatives and can be called on to represent the City at events; implementing and fostering outreach programs; organizing events; creating and planning programs that engage and support the community, and assisting with the organization of events of the community partners. The community partners are entities in which the City of Gulfport has agreed to develop and maintain relationships to improve the quality of life in the City.

The Community Relations Supervisor is also responsible for identifying systems of measures for all partnerships to determine effectiveness and improvements that can be made. In addition, the position is tasked with assisting the Office of Communications and Marketing with tasks and projects as needed. Essential Job Functions Essential duties and functions may include the following, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Other Related Duties

• Identifies needs of the City population as it relates to the quality of life.

• Identifies resources to address the needs of the population of the City of Gulfport.

• Develops relationship models with individual or multiple resource entities that lead to the benefit of the population of the City.

• Makes recommendations to the City leadership as to ways of improving the quality of life for citizens of the City.

• Designs and maintains databases, i.e., mailing lists, association and organizational lists, and more.

• As needed or directed serves as liaison to the general public, community leaders, and community groups.

• Builds and maintains relationships with members of the community and community partners.

• Develops and promotes community relations opportunities.

• Attend meetings of community-based and neighborhood associations, chambers of commerce, and other key partners and associations in the City of Gulfport.

• Develops, implements, and organizes events to advance the City’s mission, goals, and marketing initiatives.

• Works with all departments to develop community relations plans and promotes news and ongoing and new initiatives in their respective areas.

• Uses social media to coordinate community relations.

For more information contact:

Jase Payne, Manager – Office of Communications and Marketing | jpayne@gulfport-ms.gov

 

 

GULFPORT, MISSISSIPPI (October 13, 2021) – The City of Gulfport announced today the appointment of Jase Payne to lead the newly established Office of Communications and Marketing, overseeing public relations, communications, branding, and advertising for the city.

“I am excited to welcome Jase Payne back to the Gulfport city family. His connection to our community and understanding of what it takes to effectively promote this city, its people, and unique amenities makes him a key addition for this leadership position,” said Mayor Billy Hewes.

A native of South Mississippi with a B.A. in Mass Communication from the University of Southern Mississippi, Payne previously served as Marketing Manager with the City of Gulfport from 2016 – 2019, leading marketing, business development, and public relations for Gulfport Leisure Services, including the Gulfport Sportsplex and the Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival.

Before rejoining with the City, Payne recently worked for Coastal Mississippi as the Director of Communications & Engagement.

“I am very humbled to be back with the City of Gulfport. If you know me, you know my passion for this city runs deep,” Payne said. “We have many great things happening, with even more coming in the future. I look forward to working with the administration, council, and our team to continue elevating our brand and services to the citizens of Gulfport.”

Payne serves as President of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi – Beach Chapter, Treasurer of the Board of Directors for Coast Young Professionals, Past-President of the Gulfport Gridiron Club, and is a Graduate of the Gulf Coast Business Council Masters Leadership Program.

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