A new report by a state legislature watchdog committee says the port of Gulfport may not reach its required jobs goal for decades. The number of jobs created by the almost $600 million project is on everyone’s mind.
The report released Friday by the Joint Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review says the port won’t be able to meet its original goal of creating or retaining about 2500 permanent jobs by 2015. It also says some projections are now putting the date the port will meet its jobs goal as late as 2035.
Port director Jonathan Daniels disagrees with the report’s conclusions. He says he’s optimistic about meeting the jobs goal in the time required by the grant -- three years after the project is completed.
Daniels says the project should be done in 2016. He also argues the methodology used in the report only looks at container business, and the port is now diversifying into other areas.
A number of local leaders and groups have long questioned the number of jobs promised by the port. But state representative Sonya Williams Barnes says this is the first time she’s seen 2035 as a potential date for meeting the jobs target.
The jobs goal figure includes the retention of about 1200 existing jobs and the addition of 1300 more. Just over half the jobs are supposed to go to low to moderate income workers.