International trade office in Biloxi helps promote Mississippi goods

Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 9:39 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - In 2020, Mississippi’s agriculture industry was one of the state’s top moneymakers, raking in around $16.7 billion and either directly or indirectly employing a third of the population.

The Department of Agriculture and Commerce hopes to increase that number for years to come with a new international trade office located in the Bolton Building in Biloxi.

“It’s a great day for commerce in Mississippi,” Commissioner Andy Gipson said.

The office’s main responsibility is marketing the state’s goods to other countries by partnering with agencies like the Port of Gulfport.

“We do have the advantage of having these multiple harbors, multiple ports,” Gipson said. “I think it’s one way we can lead other states.”

Officials hope this will bring more international demand for the region’s crops, livestock and lumber.

“It would be fantastic to ship any of that to other parts of the world,” said Joe Spraggins, Executive Director of the Department of Marine Resources.

With more markets soon having access to more Mississippi goods, the agriculture department said the new office could expand some industries and revive others.

“(We would) be able to tell everybody this is the seafood capital of the world. This is the greatest place in the world to eat fish and eat any type of aquaculture,” Spraggins said.

While one of the office’s main goals is to promote Mississippi goods, officials also want to educate people on how to expand into different countries.

Local businesses are able to take advantage of training seminars with the Southern U.S. Trade Association aimed at export readiness and international marketing strategies.

“Our goal is to continue to train exporters and to expand what we do here in the southern region,” SUSTA Executive Director Bernadette Wiltz-Lang said.

It’s one of the resources that officials and partners hope makes Mississippi a competitor among other coastal states.

“This is the first and next step that we can go through to expand our exports around the world,” said Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation President Mike McCormick.

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