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So we signed the lease on this big rambling empty storefront located at 37 Pass Road in Gulfport, Mississippi. The process was terrifying, to say the least, but we had a great attorney, wise counsel, and a property owner who genuinely wants to see us succeed. now, the real work starts and we began the process of seeking all the needed permits and approvals to move this mission forward.

One of our first hurdles was seeking to get classified by the City of Gulfport. Because our facility is the first of its kind in our town, there are no existing rules or language governing the requirements so it sometimes feels like we’re being spitballed to see what will possibly stick. Our goal is to work with city officials in creating smart, sustainable regulations and requirement that are business friendly and mirror those that are already in existence in other cities. We’ll see how it goes moving forward.

One of our early rounds of inspections revealed many of the obvious things that will need repairing. However, we were also faced with the revelation that our sprinkler system will need to be overhauled because, after 10 years of being in a vacant building, many of the sprinkler heads are rusty and will need to be replaced. The estimated cost is $50,000. While we’re not on the hook for that entire amount, we are doing our part of bringing things up to code. For us, that meant an unexpected cost so we did what the under-resourced often have to do – we are seeking to crowdsource the additional funds through an ongoing GOFundMe effort. So far, we’ve raised nearly $7,000 in both online and offline donations. We’ve been so appreciative of everyone who has given to support this effort. If you’re so inclined, feel free to become part of this effort.

Stay posted as we creep towards getting the needed repairs to the sprinklers completed along with a laundry list of other repairs and updates to the building.