Port of Gulfport CEO details goals for facility
GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - A special guest came to visit the Harrison County Supervisors at their Monday morning meeting. After just eight months on the job, Jon Nass, the head of the Port of Gulfport, wanted to talk with supervisors about his recent successes and what sets the port apart from others in the U.S.
“We have a labor force that’s willing to work basically anytime, no congestion, 10 berths that are usually vacant. So if you’re a cargo owner, if you’re a shipping company, we can get you into the terminal, and then we can get you out of the terminal and on your way to market,” Nass said.
Supervisors got to ask questions about ongoing projects, one of which was how active the port currently is.
“We are under-utilized. We are about 50% utilized today. We got some good business but we can do better,” Nass said.
The port’s leader said he has goals to get more cargo coming in and going out.
“One is to increase more short-term freight. My second goal is longer-term freight development,” Nass said.
He mentioned doing more business with Latin American partners and trying to tap into other international markets. Nass said funds are being contributed to those efforts but there’s also something else he wants to do that could be a game-changer for the port.
“We lost business yesterday because we’re not deep enough and that’s really what we need to be a modern port,” he said.
Widening and deepening the port has been in the works for some time. Nass said the port has been saving millions of dollars to help pay its 35% of the project through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The goal is for the port to pay its costs without tapping into other grants or tax-payer money. However, Nass said the price tag and the timeline could change.
“We’re talking about $400 million. It’s probably a ten-year process to get the deepening done,” he said.
Along with direct improvements to the port, Nass said he’s committed to projects that will improve roads leading in and out of the facility, including a project that would link the port to the I-10.
“We’re very vested. We really appreciate that the port doesn’t stop at the port. This is all a system,” he said.
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