Port critics cautiously optimistic about incentive package to add jobs

Port critics cautiously optimistic about incentive package to add jobs

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The approval of the incentive package endorsed by Gov. Phil Bryant is making it easier for the Port of Gulfport to meet a federal mandate for employment.

The port must create 1,300 jobs by 2020 as part of the agreement for the $570 million federal investment to expand. Thursday's legislative action promises to bring 1,000 jobs to Gulfport; specifically to the port's inland center on Seaway Road in Gulfport.

Topship, LLC leased the property where its company, Edison Chouest Offshore, will build ships. Bryant will be Gulfport on Monday, and is expected to reveal specifics.

The project has created political smiles and happy port officials, but it's also made some critical of the port's sluggish employment history cautiously optimistic.

"We're hopeful that the jobs will be taken by those people that live in these communities - the Gulfport Community," said Glenn Cobb, with the Port Campaign Coalition. "We're definitely excited about it and looking forward to it."

The Port Campaign Coalition has been fighting alongside the STEPS Coalition holding port officials accountable.

"We're going to continue to make sure that they are aware that, number 1, we're looking for jobs. We want these jobs here," Cobb said. "They are good paying jobs, and people can feed their family and pay their rent."

Cobb also says there is still more to be done.

"We're not satisfied, but there are some indications that the 1,000 jobs are going to go a long way and we hope that the people of this community will be able to pursue those jobs," Cobbs added.

Gulfport Councilman Truck Casey is also excited.

"That's what we've been waiting on. Jobs," Casey said. "Whether they're on the port, or they are affiliated with the inland port. Just jobs."

And Casey is sure that there are measures in place to make it happen.

"I know Jonathan Daniels," said Casey. "He's a man of his word. And they have to comply with HUD and MDA, so we've got some watch dogs that's in place that's going to make sure that happens."

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