Excitement builds over news of more Seabees

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport's mayor and many business owners are thrilled with the Navy's plan to bring more personnel to the Naval Construction Battalion Center. Mayor Billy Hewes and owners say they believe more Seabees will be better for Gulfport.

Senator Roger Wicker says the additional personnel includes 12 active duty and 600 reservists coming from Jacksonville, Florida.

With an estimated annual payroll of more than $1 million, Wicker says the new personnel means the Navy believes in the future of the base in Gulfport.

"Yes it does, it makes our Seabee base in Gulfport more of a significant endorsement by the highest level in the Pentagon. So it's very good news," Senator Roger Wicker said.

"The more that come, the more that we have a great appreciation for them. But it has an economic benefit. They are renting homes. They are buying groceries. They are bringing their families. Raising their families here. Putting their kids in school," said Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes.

Business owners say more military members are a win-win for everyone in the city.

"They all have to gain from this. There are more people in the area. You know high tide raises all ships. This city has so much to gain since Katrina. We've been slowly building back and I think bringing more people to the area is just going to be better for this area," said the owner of the Flying Jalapeno Wes Newell.

Newell says 75 percent of his business at Flying Jalapeno comes from Seabees. And being a former Seabee himself, Newell says he likes to give back to them by offering them a 10 percent discount at his restaurant. Bacchus Food and Drink owner Jourdan Nicaud says his business also relies on Seabee customers.

"We really love being a part of the military and the experience that they actually bring down here," said Jourdan Nicaud the owner of Bacchus Food and Drink.

The US Navy plans to bring in the additional personnel to Gulfport by this October.

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