GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A company in Gulfport that once employed 400 is now closed. In September of last year, Ingalls announced its Gulfport Composite Center of Excellence would shut down. Officials estimated the closure would happen this past May. But, it actually came a little later, because workers had to finish one final project a deckhouse. As we discovered that deckhouse has been completed and on Thursday it was delivered marking the end of Ingalls in Gulfport.
It was a rare scene on Thursday at Ingalls in Gulfport workers walking out, after their shifts to see a nearly empty parking lot. It's a drastic change from a place that was once packed with hundreds of employees. For many workers it's their final day on the property and a bittersweet one at that.
"It's just like a big family, everybody's really nice. We've known, as soon as they ship the unit out that it was going to be all over. They are going to keep us in maintenance until the 22 of August. Helping clean up and get the yard ready to shut it down," said Michael Staggs.
Staggs is hoping a job will open up for him at Ingalls in Pascagoula, but he has a plan B, just in case.
"I've already talked to the fellows at Halter and I'm welcome to come over there, if I have to. I may, if I can't get in at Ingalls," said Staggs.
According to Ingalls, just over 400 employees were impacted by the closing. A portion of those employees have transferred to the Pascagoula location. The Harrison County Economic Development Commission says they aren't worried about other big industries in the county leaving anytime soon.
"I think Ingalls would have been here forever, if it wasn't that the Navy and Department of Defense changed the product. They went from composite back to steel, which made this particular location, not in need for them right now. But you look at our other industries, they aren't going anywhere," said Harrison County Economic Development Commission Interim Executive Director Bill Hessell.
With activity no longer happening at Ingalls in Gulfport, Hessell says the facility will be sold. He says Ingalls listed the site with a national and international company. Company officials say the closing of the property was difficult, but had to be done due to the Navy's decision to use steel products and less composite products. Two to three companies have already looked at that location, according to Hessell.