Gulf Coast Coalition Tries to Woo Business to Region

Posted August 30, 2010 at 3:41pm

Gloria Story Dittus can’t seem to get away from the Gulf Coast. Five years ago, she spearheaded a number of benefits for the region, which was reeling at the time from Hurricane Katrina.

Now her new firm, Story Partners, is behind a coalition called Ready 4 Takeoff, which includes business interests and municipalities in four Gulf Coast states: Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. The group is trying to lure government contracts, manufacturing and other business to the region, which has suffered economically after the BP oil spill this year.

“The Ready 4 Takeoff Coalition understands [that] new, innovative economic development projects will serve as the cornerstone to rebuilding the Gulf Coast economy,” Dittus, the chairman of Story Partners, said while working in Florida for the coalition. “Whether it’s fighting to help guarantee a strong and healthy Gulf Coast seafood industry, supporting efforts to build the Air Force’s tanker in Mobile, Ala., or helping to secure federal grant money to help jump-start high speed rail projects in the region, this dynamic and diverse coalition will help lay the groundwork for a strong and prosperous economic future in the Gulf.”

Already the coalition has collected dozens of members from the four states, including the city of Mobile, Dauphin Island Chamber of Commerce in Alabama, New Orleans Convention Company Inc., Gulf Coast Business Council in Mississippi and Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce.

At its official launch late last week, the coalition attracted a mix of lawmakers, including Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.).

The coalition says on its website that the government should make significant investments in the region. “In light of the severe economic impact resulting from the epic manmade oil spill, we believe the federal government should make it a priority to invest in this vital region and capitalize on non-traditional, public and private sector opportunities that will revitalize the Gulf and propel it into economic security,” the website says.