Mississippi Takes Over Singing River Island

The state of Mississippi now has control of Singing River Island.

For 14 years, Naval Station Pascagoula made its home there, bringing hundreds of military and civilian jobs and millions of dollars to the Jackson County economy.

But after surviving past rounds of military downsizing, the Naval Station was cut two years ago.

"It was a big hole in our local economy when the Navy left," Secretary of State Eric Clark said.

Clark and local leaders hope to fill that hole soon.

"We expect this to be a combination of government use and industrial use, and maybe commercial fishing, and certainly port use."

Den Knecht heads up the Jackson County Redevelopment Planning Authority, which is working with the state to find new business for the 437 acre property. The group is hiring a consultant to help find the best uses for the island.

"It would be a shame to let this facility deteriorate, and so we are trying to get these buildings occupied as quickly as we can, and the undeveloped area."

One of the companies ready to set up shop on Singing River Island is Northrop Grumman. And business leaders say it just might be a good fit for the land.

"I would like to see a combination of activities that would bring a measure of diversification to the island, and hopefully will include a level of ship building and shipping technology on the property," Jackson County Economic Director George Freeland said.

Though its permanent use is still unclear, leaders say the island has a promising future. Redevelopment Chairman Den Knecht says once the consultant is hired, he plans to have the results of the study completed by the end of the year.