GULFPORT -- An unidentified global oil services company plans to lease 54 acres of the East Pier -- most of the space available -- for operations that will provide jobs to union workers and also require employees with specific technical expertise.
Port Executive Director Jonathan Daniels said the company has paid $100,000 earnest money for exclusive rights to the space until May, when the lease should be finalized. Daniels, who had anticipated a final lease as early as this week, said he hopes negotiations are finished sooner than May.
"It is apparent from their actions they are serious about making a major investment in Gulfport," he said.
Daniels said the project, still in the planning stages, is expected to include operations serving North, Central and South American markets.
Members of the International Longshoremen Association AFL-CIO Local No. 1303 would find work with the company loading and unloading product, Daniels said, and on vessel operations.
Daniels, who has a background in ports and marketing, has been aggressively seeking
port business since he came on in June.
"This is a part of our ongoing efforts to create jobs and opportunities for area residents," he said. "I look forward to sharing more details soon."
The Gulf Coast Shipyard Group recently signed a three-year lease for East Pier space -- the first new maritime tenant since Crowley signed on in 1999.
GCSG expects to employ up to 70 workers, including 30 new employees, for finish work on the first liquefied natural gas-powered vessel being built in the United States for the offshore oil industry.
The port is in the midst of a $580 million restoration and expansion of its West Pier. The project is moving from design to construction, with contracts valued at $130 million to $180 million to be awarded over the next year. Work, which began in 2008, is scheduled to be completed in late 2016, according to the port's annual report.