The efforts of the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District of Gulfport got a boost last week when the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded the organization a $1 million grant.

The funds, announced last week in a news release, will provide a cash infusion for the organization’s Revolving Loan Fund – a program that helps supplement small businesses and entrepreneurs in the region. According to the organization’s estimate, the project is expected to help create 168 jobs, retain 59 jobs and spur $4.8 million in private investment.

“The Department of Commerce and its bureaus have been working diligently to aid communities across the country which have been devastated by natural disasters,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in the news release announcing the grant. “This Revolving Loan Fund will provide critical support to businesses throughout Mississippi, empowering local entrepreneurs all over the state.”

The Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District is a regional planning organization that supports development and a variety of services in 15 southern Mississippi counties along with 38 municipalities, its website states. The grant, awarded through the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration, is from funds designated in the federal budget for disaster relief.

Both of Mississippi’s U.S. senators – Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker – said the grant is welcome news for the Gulf Coast.

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