GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - McDermott International is making a big investment at the Port of Gulfport. That company, which supplies the oil and gas industry, will build a $25 million pipeline finishing facility at the port. It means 100 new jobs and signals a shift in the port's strategy for the future.
Port leaders and a host of dignitaries welcomed McDermott with open arms and great expectations.
"It is a big day for the port. Certainly this is part of our diversification strategy, to be able to bring a company in like McDermott, a global name in the industry," said Port Director Jonathan Daniels, who's about to mark one year as leader of the Gulfport port.
News of this major new tenant comes just five days after Chiquita announced its leaving Gulfport for New Orleans. But clearly the focus on Monday morning was the future.
"Dedicated to one belief: The proposition that this port would be successful. And that we will reach our goal of jobs requirement into the future," said Governor Phil Bryant.
"Job creation doesn't come easy. It comes with a lot of hard work, a lot of persistence, a lot of determination and a lot of teamwork," said Republican Congressman Steven Palazzo.
McDermott leaders say easy access to deep waters in the gulf made Gulfport a good choice.
"We've been around for over 90 years. We have been changing with the industry as it appears you all are trying very hard to do with the port facility here as well," said Jack Bullock, the vice president of offshore operations.
"Oil and gas service industry is one that we've not been involved with before. And I think when people in that sector see what we have to offer and what we can provide, hopefully it will spur development there," said Port Commission President John Rester.
Not only will McDermott International create 100 permanent jobs with its new port facility, but it will also use ILA labor to load the finished pipe onto ships headed offshore.
The president of the ILA local welcomes this good news in the wake of the Chiquita pullout.
"Chiquita was. That was a huge letdown," said ILA Local 1303 president, Darius Johnson. "We just keep moving forward. Chiquita has made their announcement. Now we're just looking for other tenants and other manhours to replace Chiquita."
Construction on the new McDermott port facility will begin next year. It will be operational in 2016.