Gulf and Ship Island Building set for USM blue economy renaissance

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 2:09 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - A historic building in downtown Gulfport is becoming the blueprint for continued growth in South Mississippi’s Blue Economy.

The University of Southern Mississippi is setting up its business accelerator for the present and future at the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad Building.

“This building was built in 1902 by Joseph Jones, and Joseph Jones came from Pennsylvania and he was an oilman,” said Anita Arguelles, Southern Miss Ocean Enterprise brand manager.

The former hub for railroad business and Mississippi Power is now becoming a hub for the college’s blue technology economy programs, very similar to what Joseph Jones did in Gulfport more than a century ago.

“What makes this really special and how it connects to the blue tech economy is that he also saw there would be a need for a channel,” Arguelles said. “So he built the channel or dug the channel that runs from Ship Island to the Port of Gulfport.”

Soon the G&SI building will be a business start-up logistical channel of sorts for college’s blue tech, or ocean business colleagues.

“We’re seeing such an explosion in blue technology companies that they really needed a touchdown point, and they needed to have access to us and our research and our facilities as well as some of the prototyping space,” said Kelly Lucas, Associate Vice President for Research, Coastal Operations. “So this really does give these companies a landing pad if you would.”

A pad with three floors and lots of space to explore.

“On the first floor of the facility is a layout for entrepreneurs, innovators and people starting out in technology-based businesses, particularly those in coastal and maritime settings,” said Shannon Campbell, Senior Associate Vice President for Coastal Operations. “The second floor will be leasable space for companies as they continue to grow.”

NOAA plans to set up shop on the third floor of the G&SI building, a facility that’s linked to the past and present blue economy of South Mississippi.

“It’s like history has come together and cycled back again,” Arguelles added.

Southern Miss is leasing the building from Mississippi Power. We’re told new tenants will be setting up there by the end of the month.

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