Port of Gulfport helps small businesses cash in on expansion - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Port of Gulfport helps small businesses cash in on expansion

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Sometimes creating economic opportunities is all about making the right connections. With hundreds of millions of dollars going into expanding the Port of Gulfport, the Mississippi State Port Authority wants to help South Mississippi subcontractors get a piece of the pie. So the port held a Networking and Jobs Fair.

Kevin Lock owns a small company that does millwork. He says since opportunities to introduce himself to large general contractors are not easy to come by the networking fair was great.

"I got a chance to talk to new vendors here and I'm looking forward to possibly some new opportunities might come from our meetings. And it's really exciting to see so much come together in one place."

Port officials say many of the two dozen booths are companies that either have contracts or will be bidding for contracts in the multi million dollar port expansion project. 

Port Restoration Director Joe Conn said, "We've got the firms that will be doing the work. We've got small firms that will work as subcontractors. This is an opportunity for them to tell the bigger contractors what they can do because a lot of these jobs have a lot of subcontracted work."

The event was also an outreach to minority business owners.

"We put requirements in each of our contracts that require our prime contractors to subcontract a portion of their work to minority or disadvantaged businesses," Conn said. "This just facilitates them being able to do that easier."

Although some companies won't be ready to hire until contracts are awarded, some attendees said they like being able to get their names on the list of potential employees well in advance.

Mack McCree is a job seeker from Gulfport. He said, "They will have my information so when they do have job openings in the future they could contact me. Also just to find out what training will be required."

Port officials said all the jobs being created now are construction and temporary. However, the port's ultimate goal is to create permanent long term jobs which means they must first complete the expansion and bringing in new tenants.

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