Port commission talks jobs, cranes and contractors

Port commission talks jobs, cranes and contractors
At the meeting, port commissioners say they heard familiar concerns. (Photo source: WLOX News)
At the meeting, port commissioners say they heard familiar concerns. (Photo source: WLOX News)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Job creation, contractor payments, and the arrival of giant, new cranes were among the highlights at Thursday's monthly of the Mississippi State Port Authority board.      

Though it's a new year, port commissioners are hearing familiar concerns.

"Bringing in any new jobs? And how's that going? The community would just like to know where we are on that," said Glen Cobb, who represents the North Gulfport Civic Club, among other groups.

Despite all of the port construction activity, the jobs created number remains at around 100.  However, the port director says they'll meet or exceed the requirement to create 1,200 jobs in the long term. 

"We still have a long way to go. But, we're very confident...with an announcement we're going to be making in the next few weeks that we're going to be well on our way to not only meeting, but exceeding that goal," said Port of Gulfport executive director, Jonathan Daniels.

Another point of contention is paying contractors and sub-contractors on time. Commissioners continue to hear complaints.

"We are crippling and burdening contractors that are doing good work for us because they can't get paid in time. It's just not, fair guys," said Commissioner Jim Simpson.

More ships have been seen at the port lately; December saw the port handle 49 deep draft vessels.

"For those of you who are familiar with the normal vessel traffic, as far as deep draft vessels go, that's about a fivefold increase," said Deputy Port Director Matthew Wypyski.

Another bit of good news involves new cranes. The giant gantry cranes manufactured in China are on their way to Gulfport and should arrive by mid-March. Port director Jonathan Daniels calls their impact significant.

"Companies we are speaking with right now, several of them are putting the arrival of the cranes and the commissioning of the cranes as being extremely important landmarks for us and potentially for their decisions moving forward," said Director Daniels.

McDermott, the company that provides services for the offshore oil and gas industry, has begun its pipe-spooling operation at the port.

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.