JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Industry in Jackson County is in the political spotlight. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith made four stops in the county on Monday, learning about the economic impact of the county's industrial base on the rest of the state.
One of the stops was the port of Pascagoula. Senator Hyde-Smith stepped off the bus, and with one look around, she recognized the Port of Pascagoula as a major economic player.
"It is amazing that the commerce that happens right here. It benefits everybody in the state of Mississippi. Whether you're shipping poultry or something else, this port is important to everyone," she noted.
That something else includes many things for port executive director Mark McAndrews. He said, "Our public facilities are the gateway to world markets for many, many Mississippi products, including lumber, steel, and paper."
Coming soon is a $55 million wood pellet shipping complex with products bound for Japan. According to McAndrews, "We're doing engineering and basic infrastructure work here at the port and we hope to start construction by the end of the year."
Hyde-Smith is running for the special senate election in November. South Mississippi is critical to her campaign.
She explained, "It is important to come down here and see what's going on. To make sure that things are happening and money is well spent and that's what I'm finding today."
Port officials have one message for the senator. "With her former commissioner of Agriculture background. she'll appreciate that what the public facilities here are able to do for that segment of business," McAndrews stated.
On the business of government, even though she's only been a senator a short time, Hyde-Smith feels the change. She said, "You can actually make a difference in people's lives here in Mississippi. The creation of new jobs which obviously is a stable foundation."
McAndrews added that foundation can be found at the port, saying, "When good things happen on the Pascagoula waterfront, they're good for the state of Mississippi."
Senator Hyde-Smith also toured Halter Marine, Northrop-Grumman and Chevron during her visit to the Coast.