Barbour Informs Casinos: Money is there to Rebuild
The money is in the economy to build the Coast back bigger and better than ever before, but it will take private investment from casino companies and others for the opportunities from Hurricane Katrina to be fully realized, Gov. Haley Barbour said today at the Southern Gaming Summit.Total federal spending for hurricane relief is expected to be more than $30 billion, he said. Some of that money is already in the bank, and the first dollars pouring out will come from Coast residents."Through the end of April, our citizens have received about $13 billion of insurance payments and approvals," Barbour said. "That's before about $4 billion in homeowner grants that we will make in the next few weeks. The gross domestic product in the state of Mississippi last year was $75 billion. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, our citizens will get more than 20 percent of that essentially in cash... There is a tremendous amount of liquidity on the Coast and people are back. They are not going to move to Birmingham. They are not going to move to Atlanta. They are back and they have the wherewithal to rebuild."He called on casino executives to build hotels, spas and golf courses of the highest level that will make the Coast a world-class destination. State and federal governments have given the casino industry important incentives with the Legislature's approval of onshore gambling and Congressional approval of tax breaks through the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005."They say that in the Chinese language, the symbol for danger is the same as the symbol for opportunity," Barbour said. "I've never known if that is true or not, but the fact of the matter is it ought to be if it is not. For us in Mississippi, the symbol for danger and all the terrible things that happened is the symbol for the greatest opportunity any community can have. That symbol is Hurricane Katrina. We have a chance to have a new start."