GULFPORT, Miss. - Community and business leaders gathered today for a ceremony that announced the official naming of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Nonprofit Center. Named in recognition of the organization's generous contribution to the purchase of the facility, the building on Seaway Road is jointly owned by United Way of South Mississippi, Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the Gulf Coast Business Council Research Foundation.
“Knight Foundation has been a partner since day one of our recovery and rebuilding efforts,” said Anthony Topazi, Mississippi Power Company CEO and chairman of the Gulf Coast Business Council. “This grant has significantly increased not only our capacity to serve but our speed in doing so. Knight Foundation is having a profound effect on the lives of people on the Gulf Coast, and for that we are very grateful.”
“We have strong roots in this community and have been involved in the region’s long-term recovery from the beginning,” said Alberto Ibarguën, president and CEO of the Miami-based national foundation. “This nonprofit center bearing the Knight brothers’ names is a significant and thoughtful step in the recovery.”
Morris Strickland, president of the Knight Nonprofit Center board of directors, stressed the importance of a quality, nonprofit center for the Coast.
“With more than 300 nonprofit organizations on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, there is an obvious need for a world-class nonprofit center,” said Strickland. “With the financial support of Knight Foundation, Southern Company, Harrah’s Entertainment, and the Mississippi Hurricane Recovery Fund, we will create a workplace that not only meets the needs of organizations in our area, but also enhances their ability to transform the communities they serve.”
The center now provides permanent, affordable office space to eight tenants and plans to house up to 22 after renovations are complete. The 73,000 square-foot property will undergo extensive renovations, designed by JBHM Architects, to increase the common spaces, facilities and resources among tenants.
One of the earliest stated priorities for the Gulf Coast Business Council was to build or buy a facility to house the many nonprofit and civic organizations whose offices were destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. The building became available when Harrah’s consolidated its Coast operations in Biloxi.
In September 2007, Knight Foundation awarded a $2,355,000 grant to buy and renovate the building housing the center to encourage a stronger, more viable local nonprofit sector. Knight Foundation’s funds also cover technical assistance, training and outreach programs for area nonprofits.
For more information on the Knight Nonprofit Center, please contact Gulf Coast Business Council Communications Manager Kathryn John at (228) 897-2020.
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.