Officials cut ribbon on $2 million facility in Jackson County

Mari Signum Dragon Drying plant brings new business to Vancleave

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A new facility is now in operation in Jackson County. The Mari Signum Dragon Drying plant is the first of its kind and represents a $2 million investment near the Vancleave community. The operation will dry shrimp hulls that will be turned into a product called Chitin, which can be used in a variety of goods.

Bu why the Mississippi Gulf Coast? And why Jackson County? CEO John Keys explains.

“For all the wild caught shrimp that come out of the Gulf of Mexico, they’re landing in two basic areas in the United States. One is in Louisiana, and the other is right here,” Keyes said.

At full capacity next year, Keyes says the plant will employ about 40 people making anywhere from $15 to $40 an hour, depending on experience.

“We hope to employ a lot of employees from the region. Tap into the expertise of the citizens down here, the ones that work at Ingalls Shipyard,” he explained.

For those already hired, the high paying job is a blessing.

“It’s made a big change for myself and my children because I’m a single mother, and it’s been absolutely a gift, a gift that can’t be matched,” Donnah Payne said.

It’s not just the high salaries and the investment in the plant that’s a game changer, the environment will receive a boost as well.

“This is going to be a great solution for the industry. They now have a place to send their shells to, and it doesn’t just end up in landfills. So, this product can be used in a different form," said Dr. Kelly Lucas with USM.

There’s no doubt that the economic impact of Drying Dragon is already significant in Jackson County and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It can grow even more once the word gets out. So how is that done?

Fayr Barkley works in media relations for the company.

“We’re tagging the national and international newspapers, magazines, radio and television news outlets around the world.”

And when that happens, Mari Signum, which means miracle of the sea, will be a miracle on dry land as well.

Following Monday’s ribbon cutting, company officials hosted an open house for anyone who wanted to stop by and take a look at the plant and learn how it operates.

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