Ocean Springs, Mississippi

2013 Great American Main Street Award

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Award Type: GAMSA

The Numbers, Over 23 Years

  • Main Street began: 1990
  • Population: 17,472
  • Net new jobs: 1216
  • Net new businesses: 319
  • Building rehabs: 196 
  • New buildings: 23
  • Housing units: 320
  • Vacancy rate when Main Street started: 80%
  • Vacancy rate now: 0%

Read the official press release

Visit the website: www.oceanspringschamber.com

In Their Own Words

Ocean Springs, a coastal cottage town, known for its eclectic surroundings, famously has that clichéd “small town charm with big city amenities”. With a nationally recognized museum, dedicated to world renowned artist, Walter Anderson, located in the middle of the downtown district, it would be easy to name “dedication to nurturing the creative economy through the Four Point Approach” as why Ocean Springs is a winner. But, the dedication part of that statement might get lost. Because, it is the dedication of OSMS and their partners, to the Four Point Approach and to never losing their desire, that truly makes this such a exemplary Main Street community.

Lead by a Main Street team that has never let the downtown lose its character, but instead used that to enhance the eclectic charm. From restoring the local soda fountain where Elvis used to hang out, to weathering the worst natural disaster in American history and the worst oil spill the world has ever seen, OSMS never lost its determination to stay true to its Sense of Place and its dedication to the Main Street Four Point Approach. Post Katrina, when hundreds of planners and developers, from all over the world, tried to convince the coastal hamlet to think “bigger and grander”, the OSMS board realized that if they stayed true to their vision and community, a “bigger and grander” benefit would come. This exemplifies the Main Street Four Point Approach, as well as adheres to the Eight Guiding Principles. This makes Ocean Springs a more than worthy GAMSA winner.

They're Not Done Yet

Q: What are your district’s strategic initiatives for the next five years?

A: OSMS has a strong partnership with the City of Ocean Springs, the State of Mississippi and several national organizations. Through these partnerships, we will continue to be a leader in preservation, development and revitalization along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, in the Gulf region and the national Main Street network. Through exceptional strategic planning of the Four Points, and continued volunteer recruitment, we will sustain and continue to build toward an even more vibrant future.

Economic Restructuring

  • Complete downtown boutique hotel near the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center.
  • Expansion of Walter Anderson Museum of Art, YMCA and Broome’s Grocery.
  • Appropriate infill development to create new shopping, restaurant (12 restaurants in planning stages NOW) and lodging opportunities


  • Expand façade grant program funding
  • Continue the Public Arts Project of Ocean Springs (PAPOS).
  • Architecturally sympathetic infill development housing projects


  • Continue to expand on the over 30 festivals and events that take place annually.
  • Take events guide and OceanSpringsEats.com website national
  • Continue to be a leader in the coastal and regional marketing efforts


  • Update all work plans annually
  • Continue to diversify our board of directors
  • Work toward the goal of a 500 person volunteer base