Chevron To Begin $150 Million In Improvements For Jackson County Plant

In the area near the heart of the Chevron refinery's operation, more than $150 million worth of improvements and expansion will soon take place.

"Everything is going on inside, and we are actually reconfiguring some of those processes that exists today and taking much better advantage of some technology," refinery manager Norm Szydlowski said.

The job will take more than one year to complete and require an extra 800 full-time workers. County leaders say the jobs are needed.

"It's like receiving a Christmas present early," District Four Supervisor Frank Leach said.

"This sends a very clear message to the business community that Jackson County is the right place to do business," said George Freeman with the Jackson County Economic Development Office. "We are a static location. We have a skilled, educated worker force."

Local businesses should also profit from the construction process, with the need for raw materials and equipment.

"Chevron has made an effort to make sure every consideration is given to our local job market to look at local contractors and local vendors," Leach said.

Plant managers say the benefits of this expansion will last long after the construction is over, with increased production and job security for the current 1,200 employees.

"It's a good strong vote of confidence that we have a good refinery presently, and we are positioning ourselves to be here in the long term," Szydlowski said.

And it's that long-term stability that county leaders and employees believe this expansion brings to the refinery.

New federal requirements aimed at reducing car pollution are the reasons behind this expansion project. All U.S. refineries must produce cleaner burning gas by 2005. If construction goes as planned the Pascagoula refinery will be almost two years ahead of schedule.