Gov. Bryant Frustrated by Port Expansion's Slow Progress
The nearly $600 million expansion of the State Port in Gulfport is one of the biggest post Katrina projects on the coast. And state leaders, including Governor Phil Bryant, want to see more progress.
For a variety of reasons, physical evidence of meaningful movement on the ambitious expansion of the state port in Gulfport has been hard to detect. Governor Phil Bryant told WLOX News he's frustrated by a lack of activity.
"We're not making the progress I'd like to see us make," Bryant said Friday during a visit to the coast.
"I agree with him 100 percent," said Port Director Don Allee. "I wanted to see us much farther along then we are today."
Allee points out that only $54 million of the $570 million in CDBG money directed to the port by the state and approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development has been spent. He said that's because the allocation was just recently made.
"We did not get our release of funds, which is the big chunk of the $570 million until just about a year ago. The release of funds, that process was not completed between MDA, the port and Housing and Urban Development until May of 2011."
HUD agreed to allow the money, originally targeted for housing, to go to the port with the stipulation that significant job creation be achieved. In that regard, the expansion project has fallen short.
"We targeted to create 2,400 jobs. We identified in our last economic impact study that about 1,200 jobs have been created. So we're somewhere between 1,000 and 1,200 away from our goal. I can tell you we're still targeting to create these additional 1,200 jobs," said Alee.
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