The Port of Gulfport is about to see major changes. After some delays, dredging will finally begin on the port, and Chiquita Banana is extending its lease before it leaves for New Orleans.
The Port of Gulfport has known for years that dredging the channel is necessary for its long term success, but red tape has delayed any movement. The port finally decided to jump start the project by lending the Army Corp of Engineers $8 million to fund the project, but even that loan has its share of red tape. Jonathan Daniels, the Director of the Port of Gulfport, says, “It goes from the Mobile district to Atlanta, from Atlanta up into D.C. Once it gets to Washington, it goes to the Army Corp headquarters. It goes to the Office of Management of Budget, and ultimately with congressional approval, we're able to contribute the $8 million as part of a $12 million project.”
There is good news though. With the passage of the Water Resources Development Act, this entire process will now be streamlined, and that's not the only good news at the port. The Port Authority Commission approved Chiquita Bananas' request to extend its lease by six months. Daniels also says, “But ultimately, it came down to doing everything that was necessary to make sure that the men and women working with the longshoremen crew, as well at Chiquita, that they had a home as long as possible.”
While the longshoremen are happy with Chiquita's decision because it means they'll have jobs for a few months longer, they say it still doesn't provide a long term solution. Truck Casey, an International Longshoreman at the Port of Gulfport, says, “Maybe 2016 McDermott will be up and running, and that's a long time off. Even if Chiquita stays here ‘til the end of the year, that's still going to be about a year, year and a half, something like that.”
Casey emphasizes they are still grateful for Chiquita's extension because the longshoremen just want to work.