GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Monday, the Port of Gulfport reached out to religious leaders to help spread the word that more jobs are coming. Jobs that port officials say will go toward the 1,300 jobs the port needs to generate as part of a post Hurricane Katrina deal.
As we've reported, the state gave $566 million in Community Development Block Grant money to the port for restoration and expansion in exchange for generating 1,300.
It's a new initiative by the port that CEO and executive director Jonathan Daniels hopes will make the road ahead as smooth as possible.
"This is, in many respects, a grass roots effort, and this just continues that," said Daniels.
Daniels is trying to create a network of sorts by inviting faith-based leaders from the surrounding community. These include leaders from churches, nonprofits and other organizations that have a wide reach through their congregations.
Steve Mooneyham is the executive director of the Gulf Coast Baptist Association. He sees a clear benefit to meetings like this when it comes to how many churches are in constant contact with him.
"We have an opportunity to share what we see and encourage them to be a part," said Mooneyham.
He has a good bit of experience in the community where Lt. Alphonso Hughes, with the Salvation Army, is brand new to the coast. This meeting has opened a door of possibilities for Hughes and the people he sees on a daily basis.
"We see a lot of people that come through our doors each and every day that are down on hope. So, seeing this and seeing the direction that the port wants to go, I'm encouraged knowing there are opportunities coming for our clients," said Hughes.
For the most part, the meeting and tour served as an update for these guests. Ongoing construction, incoming equipment and the thousands of jobs that are planned.
Another area minister, David Brand, says much of this effort should be geared at the youth of the area.
"By the time this thing gets up and running, these kids are going to be looking for jobs. Let's put them to work," said Brand.
Brand believes staying updated with port happenings will help people find jobs and help the various coast ministries continue their mission of community outreach.
"It's a win-win," Brand said.
Monday's meeting was the first of several that the port has planned in the coming months to reach out to community leaders.