Business briefs (OCT 7)

Sangani's company sells Gulfport Plaza

Encore Retail LLC, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Encore Enterprises Inc., has sold Gulfport Plaza.

The property on U.S. 49, has a Super Wal-Mart, CATO, It's Fashion, Advance America, GNC, Sally Beauty Supply, GameStop and Petco.

Bharat Sangani, chairman of Encore Enterprises, developed the shopping area on Sangani Boulevard in D'Iberville. He said the sale  of Gulfport Plaza is part of the company's strategy to acquire, develop and redevelop retail shopping centers.

"The sale of this property will enable us to purchase and develop other properties, enabling us to expand our retail presence to other areas of the country," he said.

Encore Retail president Nicholas Barber said, "We were able to increase gross leasable area by 28 percent and secure Petco as a new, long-term anchor."

Four new food businesses licensed

The Mississippi Department of Health has licensed four food establishments to open:

Orlean's Chicken, 15800 Lemoyne Blvd., Biloxi. Menu: Fried chicken and Chinese food. Owner: Vincent Luu. Phone: 967-7770

FireFly Tavern & Bar, 1091 Government St., Ocean Springs. Menu: featuring duck bites and other delights. Owner: Brandon Pierpont. Phone: 215-1116

Prep by KUG, 2335 Government St., Ocean Springs. Menu: Prepping meals to pick up and take home to heat and serve. Owner: Kristin Grizzard. Phone: 818-9442

Ocean Springs Olive Oils & Vinegars, 1604 Bienville Blvd., Ocean Springs. Offering a variety of flavored olive oils and vinegars for tasting and purchase. Owner: Joseph Morgan. Phone: 334-5808

Hancock Holding expands to health care banking

GULFPORT -- As booming health care hubs grow across the Gulf South, Hancock Holding Company is building its health care business with more loans, a new loan office and lending experts based in metropolitan Nashville, Tenn., America's health care capital.

Hancock, which operates under the Hancock Bank and Whitney Bank names across a five-state Gulf Coast corridor, on Tuesday announced a purchase agreement for outstanding health care loans from Georgia-based United Community Banks Inc.

Hancock also assumes UCB's lease on a Nashville loan production office and has hired four highly experienced Nashville health care bankers, who will work with other Hancock and Whitney bankers to serve clients in the company's Gulf South markets.

Workforce development will be topic of CYP event

BILOXI -- Coast Young Professionals' Educate & Engage series continues with "The State of Workforce Development in Mississippi," presented Oct. 14 at Boomtown Casino Event Center.

Doors open at 11:45 a.m. and the program runs from 12:15-1 p.m. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is the featured speaker.

Admission is $25 for CYP members and $34 for general admission. Sponsorships available for $250 and $500.


State gets grant to fight Internet crime

JACKSON -- A $292,281 federal grant has been awarded to the Mississippi Attorney General's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force from the U.S. Department of Justice to support the development of strategies that protect children from commercial and sexual exploitation.

Attorney General Jim Hood's office formed the task force in 2007. It is dedicated to investigations, forensic analyses of electronic evidence, prosecutions of technological crimes against children and the education of law enforcement and the public.

The Mississippi unit now has 60 local, state and federal law enforcement affiliate agencies and multi-disciplinary partners.

Pumpkins may be in short supply by Thanksgiving

NEOGA, Ill. -- There should be enough pumpkins for Halloween this year, but that might not be the case for the canned pumpkin used in pies come Thanksgiving, according to crop experts in Illinois, the country's top pumpkin-producing state.

Large canned-pumpkin manufacturer Libby says yields could be off by as much as a third this year in Illinois, where about 90 percent of the pumpkins grown in the U.S. come from within a 90-mile radius of Peoria. Farmers are blaming record rainfall in June for washing out the crop.

-- Staff, wire reports