A flowery deal coming between the Coast and Colombia

Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes (third from left), and Biloxi Mayor FoFo Gilich (second from right)...
Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes (third from left), and Biloxi Mayor FoFo Gilich (second from right) join others in Rionegro, Colombia to sign a deal to bring fresh-cut flower shipments to South Mississippi.(Photo Source: Facebook/Billy Hewes)
Updated: Nov. 29, 2018 at 2:29 PM CST
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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes, Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich and others recently struck a rosy deal to eventually have fresh-cut flowers flown to the Coast and distributed throughout the country. The group made it back to the Coast Wednesday after spending time in South America.

“What we saw is an opportunity at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport with the cargo facility that has a radiation mechanism that sterilizes produce, fruit and food to make it safe for distribution to anywhere in the United States,” Hewes said. “Gateway is the business, and they’ve been interfacing with the group for Rinegro, Colombia. They’re very excited about it, a lot of growers in that area. They’re getting congested down in Miami.”

Why Colombia, which is so many miles south of the Coast? Believe or not, Colombia is one of the world’s largest exporters of fresh flowers. In fact, that country has more than 130,000 species of plants. Roses, orchids and carnations top the flower list.

“They still export a lot of coffee, but fresh flowers are a huge part of their industry, and a big market is here in North America,” Hewes said. “There’s a direct line from South America across the Caribbean to the Port, so we think this could be the tip of the iceberg as far as opportunity.”

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