Officials defend progress at Port of Gulfport

Officials defend progress at Port of Gulfport

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - There was a lot of construction and cargo activity at the Port of Gulfport on Thursday.

Executive director of the port, Jonathan Daniels, told commissioners, "it's a real cluster down there....it's a wonderful cluster."

Daniels defended the progress and job creation demands. His report to the board followed public comments from STEPS Coalition representative, Howard Page, who lamented about the slow pace of progress and the lack of jobs created.

The port is spending $570 million in HUD money that was redirected from housing to economic development after Katrina, and is charged with creating 1,300 jobs by late 2017. Others at the meeting say they're pleased with the progress they're seeing now, even if the pace is a bit slower than expected.

Gary Fredericks, president of the Gulfport branch NAACP, says they are monitoring the port project and remain optimistic the jobs will be created.

Gulfport City Councilman Kenneth "Truck" Casey is also cautiously optimistic about the future job numbers. The longtime longshoreman looks at the pile driving and other construction activity underway at the port and sees future "union jobs".

Daniels will have an opportunity to talk about progress and jobs with HUD Secretary Julian Castro. Daniels and Governor Phil Bryant will take a private tour of the port early Thursday afternoon.

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