PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - At the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation annual meeting, the news came with stunning quickness.
Pummeled by Katrina and sitting dormant for years, the Ingalls east bank shipyard will be up and running again. It's a smart business move.
Brian Cuccias is the shipyard president. "Well, we just looked at what the future of the Navy will become and what our capabilities are, and capacities and we just thought it would be smart to expand and increase our flexibility," he said.
That flexibility won't come cheap, according to Cuccias. he explained, "We're putting hundreds of millions of dollars in both east bank and west bank and to basically modernize it. It really has been modernized since it was built."
For former Ingalls president Jerry St. Pe, this is a banner day. St. Pe' stated, "It reflects this shipyards level of performance and it reflects its leadership in its shareholders long-term commitment to invest here in Pascagoula, Mississippi."
Elected officials were quick to praise the move. One of them was Moss Point mayor Mario King. "I think it's a huge deal for the economy, especially in Moss Point. So many of our residents actually work at the shipyard so the expansion is absolutely amazing," said King.
Another was Mayor Dane Maxwell of Pascagoula, who noted, "In my lifetime I don't think there's been a bigger deal than this. With over $150 million dollars, re-energizing the east bank, expanding out there, building new facilities."
While spending hundreds of millions of dollars improving the west bank and re-opening the east bank is a big deal for Jackson County, perhaps the biggest impact is going to be felt nationwide and globally when it comes to other companies.
That's the opinion of George Freeland, the director of Jackson County economic development. Freeland maintained, "We'll communicate to potential investors that companies like Ingalls are making significant investments into this community, and they have been successful for a myriad of different reasons, it does nothing but bolster our credibility."
Not to mention bolstering economic well being.
Work has already started on refurbishing the east bank shipyard and should be complete in about two years.