Here are the remarks that Mayor A.J. Holloway delivered at the kickoff meeting of the Reviving the Renaissance initiative, before an audience of about 700 on March 30, 2006 at the Saenger Theater in downtown Biloxi:
Good evening, and thank you for being here for the kickoff meeting of our drive to Revive the Renaissance.
In a few minutes, Clark Griffith is going to explain the details of how we’re going to revive the renaissance, but let me explain my thinking on this.
As we work toward planning our future, we need to remember the things that made us successful in the past.
The reason this is called Reviving the Renaissance is because, you know, Biloxi wasn’t broke before the storm.
We created 15,000 jobs, built almost 20,000 hotel rooms, went from a million to between 8 and 10 million visitors a year. We lowered taxes and we preserved and promoted our history and our culture.
There’s been a lot of talk and recommendations about our future in the past few months. And since it’s Biloxi, there’s been a diverse collection of opinions, along with some new ones that have shown up.
We’re taking the logical step – following up on the recommendations we’ve seen from the Governor’s Commission. The governor wants a renaissance? I want to REVIVE the renaissance were enjoying before Aug. 29.
We face a massive task. We lost 6,000 structures in the city. Hundreds of historic homes and landmarks. Entire blocks of neighborhoods were reduced to debris fields.
In the wake of the storm, the national media looked at me and said, “How do you rebuild after THIS?” “How CAN you rebuild after this?”
Well, like I said then, I don’t have all of the answers, but I KNOW how we’re going to get them. And that’s the process we’re starting here tonight. And that’s why I’m so glad to see so many of you here. We NEED your input.
We’re going to look at everything, and as Clark will tell you in a minute, we’re also going to make sure things are realistic.
We’re going to deal with issues like affordable housing, public education, streets and drainage, historic preservation, and, of course, the new challenges from the FEMA flood elevations.
One other thing that we’re going to remember as we go about this process is that people have property rights. I’m a strong advocate of that, and we all need to keep that thought in mind as we move forward.
In conclusion, I want to repeat something that I’ve said more than once over the past few months:
One of the things that I am most proud of as your mayor is how all of you have dealt with this ordeal. You make me very proud.
I use the words resolve and resilience when I talk about you. The rest of the nation is using another word, too. Inspirational.
This is the stuff the people of Biloxi are made of. And this is the spirit that’s going to help Revive the Renaissance.
God bless all of you, and God bless Biloxi.