GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Port of Gulfport invited the public behind its gates once again over the weekend. In light of recent changes and announcements at the port, a lot of people saw this as an opportunity to look for answers.
The Port started offering free tours last fall, and even though some difficult changes have come about, officials have insisted on continuing almost every quarter.
Merle and Dorothy Golnick have been calling Gulfport home for most of their lives. They decided to take advantage of a chance to catch a glimpse inside the port.
"We've heard much about what's happening here at the port and I thought it'd be great just to learn a little bit more about what they're planning and how they operate," said Merle.
That's what port CEO Jonathan Daniels wanted to accomplish by offering an inside look. His hopes were to address any concerns that people may have about the port.
A main topic of conversation is the departure of Chiquita and the incoming business of McDermott.
"When you're talking about the job numbers, the job numbers are going to be higher. The impact on the salaries, the salaries are much higher," said Daniels.
He said even though it was difficult to see the port's 40 year relationship with Chiquita come to a close, the future is looking promising. The 84 acre port expansion is moving along.
"We've been working very quickly. Unfortunately, with the red taping guidelines that we have with the expenditures of the money, it takes a little extra time," said Daniels.
That's not what the Chairman of the Board of Dole Food Company, David Murdock, wants to hear. He recently pushed for a faster completion.
Daniels said the first portion of the terminal and the new wharf area are complete. Now the Port is moving on to Phase 2, which will include an area that will support Dole's operations.
"So, we're going to be able to tell Mr. Murdock and everyone else who is looking at us, see, we are making progress," said Daniels.
Daniels is confident that the expansion will be complete by the third quarter of 2016 when McDermott is supposed to be in operation.