A Party Welcomes Back Chiquita
After two years of operating out of New Orleans, the well-known international fruit brand Chiquita is back on the Coast.
That’s something local leaders say is worth going bananas about, as evidenced at a special celebration in Gulfport today. News 25’s Gina Tomlinson takes us to the Coast’s welcome back party for Chiquita.
It’s a dream come true for Gulfport as national leading banana distributor Chiquita makes its return to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Chiquita CEO Andrew Biles said, “It’s always a good day to return to a port that we’ve known for 40 years.”
In 2014, Chiquita moved its operations to New Orleans. After two years of business in Louisiana, they will now be ripening at the Port of Gulfport. Governor Phil Bryant said, “It didn’t take them long, particularly with a new CEO, to decide that Gulfport was Chiquita’s home.”
The community, government, city and port officials gathered for a welcome back party in Jones Park, celebrating a 40 year lease agreement between Chiquita and the Port of Gulfport.
While Gulfport’s infrastructure played a part in Chiquita’s decision to return, Biles tells News 25 overall, it’s really about who is eating bananas. “At the end of the day, it’s our customers who decide. So our retailers said we prefer Gulfport.”
Officials say Chiquita’s move back to Gulfport will create a bunch of jobs, breaking off an opportunity for a call for local employment. “Fifty people in the Gulfport-Gulf Coast area will have really good jobs working here at the Port of Gulfport,” said Governor Bryant.
Ten administrative positions and 40 jobs to help import and export Chiquita produce will be filled at the port. Chris Vignes with the City of Gulfport said, “With a 40 year lease agreement coming in, the potential is endless.”
As the port peels off the deal with Chiquita, officials say the future for both looks bright. “No company, no port, shrinks to greatness so hopefully we can grow together,” said Biles.