GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi State Port Authority board of commissioners hired a new executive director Monday to oversee the Port at Gulfport. Jonathan Daniels received the unanimous support of the board at the special called meeting.
He's currently a port director in upstate New York, at the Port of Oswego, with a background in economic development.
Port commissioners approved his hiring in a room filled with government and community leaders. Board chairman Jim Simpson told the crowd with Jonathan Daniels at the helm, the port authority now has the perfect team.
"Especially at this time when we're moving from planning and development to actual construction. We feel like it's an enormous opportunity and a great time for us," said Chairman Simpson.
With port expansion work clearly visible from the Great Southern Club, the new director told everyone he likes what he sees.
"We're going to work every day to make sure that we are the type of port, the type of port authority that works well with our customers, works well with the ILA, works well with all stake holders and works with the community," said Jonathan Daniels.
It was his economic development experience that helped push Daniels to the top of the list following a nationwide search.
"We're rebuilding our port, but it's time to grow our business. It's time to start that economic development. He's got tremendous background in that and we're looking forward to a lot of work in that area," said Simpson.
Though he currently works in upstate New York, and is from that area originally, Daniels is no stranger to the South and Southeast. He's a 1991 graduate of The Citadel, in Charleston, South Carolina and spent three years as port director in Baton Rouge.
"It's a once in a lifetime economic development opportunity. And as an incredible state asset, we plan to leverage this to engage not only in the development activities, but then that translates into job creation," said the incoming port director.
He begins the new job in mid-June.
Before taking the job as port director in Oswego, New York, Jonathan Daniels was executive director of the Eastern Maine Development Corporation, which included a six county region in the state of Maine.