Jackson County Economic Leaders Reacts To Naval Station Closing - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/24/05

Jackson County Economic Leaders Reacts To Naval Station Closing

Jerry St. Pe' and George Freeland hoped for the best as the BRAC Commission voted but they knew to be ready for the worst.

"While we may be disappointed about the decision, in the world of economic development we have to deal with change," Jackson County Economic Development Foundation Director George Freeland says.

The makeup of the naval station has changed a lot over the last few years.

Two of the home port's cruisers the U.S.S. Ticonderoga and the U.S.S. Yorktown have been decommissioned.

The U.S.S. Gates is scheduled to be decommissioned later this year.

"We don't need a naval base here that doesn't have ships homeported," Singing River Diversification Committee member Jerry St. Pe' says.

St. Pe' and others have already been planning for opportunities for the naval station site and the other 100 acres of the undeveloped land on Singing River island.

"We want to increase the presence of the coast guard at the naval station," St. Pe' says.

"In addition to that, our mission is to bring business to Singing River Island which we think is a fantastic industrial site," Singing River Diversification Committee Chairman Dan Knecht says.

"We see over the long haul more economic opportunity for this property," Freeland says.

Although they don't yet know what type of businesses could soon call the island home, they are confident whatever ends up here will offer even more to the community.

"This is not a hand wringing situation for our community," St, Pe' says.

"All in all, I believe the economic activity on Singing River Island a few years from now will be stronger than it has been these last few years," Knecht adds.

By Jaimee Goad

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