Activists Still Not Happy with Number of New Jobs at Port of Gulfport

McDermott International will officially become a part of the Port of Gulfport in the next two weeks, but community activist groups feel it isn’t enough to satisfy job creation requirements. When the port restoration project was approved in 2008, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (H.U.D.) invested over half a billion dollars in the Port of Gulfport with the expectation that 1,300 jobs would be created.

Thursday, the port officially announced McDermott International will be calling Gulfport home in just over two weeks. Jonathan Daniels, Executive Director and C.E.O. of the State Port Authority, says, "The fact that they are coming in much earlier than expected, we are going to start to see the benefits of job creating and vessels arriving here so the public will see what we’ve been talking about for over a year now is finally coming to fruition."

This new port tenant is slated to create about 100 jobs, but some community support group leaders are concerned that the port and the Mississippi Development Authority (M.D.A.) have not yet shown documents supporting a plan for overall job creation. Howard Page of the Steps Coalition says, "That’s what the port is failing to do here is the overall vision of how many jobs will be produced with the money that we’ll be spending."

Dredging is still ongoing at the Port of Gulfport in order to entice more companies to bring their business to south Mississippi. Daniels also says, "Having 36 feet in the channel and the harbor does not mean much to us if we don’t have 36 feet on the dock. To be able to support activities for McDermott by bringing in the DB-50, we have to have 36 feet at least."

Dredging began in September of 2014 and is nearing completion. Daniels says, "We are under a very tight deadline. McDermott’s vessel will be here in the middle of March. We also have other oar or bulk vessels that will be coming in the next few weeks, so it’s something we have to act on almost immediately."

Page closes, "We’re still waiting on the M.D.A. The port is like everyone else, waiting on M.D.A. to come up with the answers H.U.D. is demanding."

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