GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Gulfport Chamber of Commerce’s first quarterly connections breakfast of the year focused on what is on the horizon for the Port of Gulfport in 2020.
Over the last three years, the Port of Gulfport has seen an increase in revenue by more than $6.8 million. Port Director Jonathan Daniels said the port was built to significantly expand, and he wants to ensure that it will continue to grow.
“You’ve seen a little bit of a different port during the last few years as we used to just be that single level, what’s called a wheeled operation. Now you’re starting to see us grow. You’re starting to see us go vertical. That’s giving us much better density and because of that we’re seeing much more cargo move through the port,” Daniels said.
To continue increasing the amount of cargo, Daniels reiterated the need for dredging. Increasing the port to a depth of 46 feet will help accommodate larger ships.
“I anticipate that best-case scenario is that we see dredging occur with everything, within maybe about 10 years or so," he said. "So, it’s a long-term commitment.”
Currently, construction is underway on the Ocean Enterprise facility and is estimated to cost $35 million dollars. When selecting projects like this, he looks at how the economy of Gulfport will be impacted.
“First and foremost, we’re a job-creating entity. We’re an economic development agency... I think the easy part is to look at throughput and to look at how much cargo moves through, but ultimately we go to the next line and look at what is it going to be? How is it going to translate into jobs?” Daniels said.
The next phase of construction on the Ocean Enterprise facility is expected to begin in the third or fourth quarter of this year.