Photo from Port of Gulfport
Investment in the Mississippi Gulf Coast port will increase commerce and new job opportunities for the community.
The Mississippi State Port Authority announced on Thursday that they have entered into a long-term lease and operating agreement with Ports America, the largest terminal operator and stevedore in the United States.
The Port of Gulfport, located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and Ports America have a long-standing relationship, with Ports America acting as a licensed stevedore at the Port of Gulfport since 2006.
According to a release from the Port Authority, the two entered into a Letter of Intent in September 2022 that outlined their mutual intent to work together to increase commerce at the Port of Gulfport. The resulting lease and operating agreement includes a 20-year term with the option for two additional 10-year terms available to Ports America.
The Port Authority states that a major feature of the agreement is a $43 million investment from Ports America to develop the vacant Terminal 4 at the Port of Gulfport into a cargo-handling terminal. This includes a new ship-to-shore crane and surface improvements.
The Port of Gulfport became a state-owned facility in 1961 and has continued to expand its business interests and facilities. The Mississippi Coast port has been a destination for vessels for over 300 years. The Port of Gulfport was officially established in 1902.
The new investment by Ports America in the infrastructure and development of the Port of Gulfport, specifically Terminal 4, will drive an economic boost to the area, the Port Authority believes. The addition of new business at the Port of Gulfport is expected to result in more longshoreman hours, an increase in throughput for the Port, and new job opportunities for the community.
The Port Authority also believes that the partnership will result in increased ship traffic and provide a basis for the Port’s ongoing project to deepen and widen the channel.
“We’re very excited to build on our existing relationship with Ports America. We have so many strategic advantages here at the Port of Gulfport, and this partnership will develop 38 acres of currently vacant land in Terminal 4, allowing for full utilization of the asset. I look forward to continuing to work with Ports America to drive business and create jobs here on our Gulf Coast,” said Jon Nass, CEO & Executive Director of the Port of Gulfport, in the release announcing the partnership.
Matthew Leech, President & CEO of Ports America, expressed his pleasure in the agreement as well, noting the fact that it benefits the state’s economic prosperity.
“Ports America is pleased to strengthen our partnership with the Port of Gulfport and reinforce our contributions to Mississippi’s economic prosperity, where we’ve been proudly operating since the 1960s,” Leech said. “Our investments into Gulfport will allow the Port to meet its growing demands for infrastructure development, grow its status as a crucial marine terminal transportation hub that provides high-paying jobs for the state of Mississippi, and continue the parties’ long-standing commitment to their respective employees, the ILA, and the community.”