Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
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BAYST. LOUIS, Miss. -- The Bay St. Louis historic district has become a center of economic development.

'Property values are soaring in downtown Bay St. Louis right now,' said Mayor Les Fillingame. 'The message that I'm getting from my real estate community is that is the hottest spot on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.'

Nine years ago, Katrina devastated Bay St. Louis, wiping out homes, smashing businesses.

'In the days and months right after Katrina, recovery seemed to be lifetimes away,' Fillingame recalled.

'We had nothing but mud streets for a year and a half, but still trudged along,' said Lulu's Restaurant owner Nancy Moynan.

Nancy Moynan struggled through those years, but says tourist business was good this summer.

'Great influx of people, and people that have never been here, and that are certain to come back,' she said.

'It gives me so much joy to see how we have rebuilt, because we've rebuilt better,' said Tish Williams of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce. 'It's a better Bay.'

The mayor says federal and state funds made so many repairs possible, also a key new project, the Bay Harbor Marina that is enticing new businesses.

'I would say virtually almost every day, we have a new business coming in, checking out all of the prospects,'said Mayor Fillingame.

Town leaders say this is just the start of the Bay St. Louis boom. In fact the Chamber's motto is 'life just got better.' But they say there's still one thing missing.

What's missing though is all of our friends from New Orleans that had summer homes here, and came over on the weekends,' said Williams.

'There will be precious little space in downtown Bay St. Louis for continued growth after five years from now,' predicted the Mayor.

'People are scrounging to find a place to open a business in Bay St. Louis, and that's awesome,' smiled Nancy Moynan.

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