By Andrés Fuentes | August 29, 2020 at 9:58 PM CDT - Updated August 30 at 6:42 AM
GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - It’s been a decade-long wait for locals to finally step foot inside the Mississippi Aquarium. While families are grateful to have a new attraction in the area, small businesses in downtown Gulfport see the facility as a new hope.
“Gulfport seems to be slow and it was slow before.” said Emily’s Cafeteria server Cara Burrows.
Businesses hope the state-of the art facility brings in more interest in an area that needs it.
And the results are quickly showing.
“There’s a lot more foot traffic,” said Burrows. “There are a lot of new faces. We have our regulars come every single weekend but there’s a lot of new faces in here.”
With more people, comes more attention toward COVID-19 restrictions.
“We will be watching to make sure we maintain all the safety necessary.” said Gulfport Art Center Director Mark Kelso.
Businesses say they’re prepared for crowds from the aquarium to visit them and some have partnered with the facility.
The Gulfport Art Center will offer classes to field trips headed to the aquarium, all with a sea-inspired theme.
“There’s going to be a variety of things, like what we call pour art, where you do an abstract that way,” said Kelso. “We have some ceramic things, painting, decorating, T-shirts. We will actually have the older kids making t-shirts for themselves.”
To help with transportation, the CTA has routes to help bring people to the area from across South Mississippi.
Copyright 2020 WLOX. All rights reserved.