After two years of work, Harbor Freight Tools will open in Gautier in early 2018.
Harbor Freight will move into the 15,000-square-foot store formerly occupied by NFL Hardware at 2029 U.S. 90 in Gautier. The building is southeast of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, on the south side of the highway, across from Coldwell Banker.
Harbor Freight officials said the new store will open by late January and will create 35-40 new jobs. A grand opening is planned for mid-February.
This is the second South Mississippi location of the national hardware chain store. Another is on Pass Road in Biloxi.
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“We’re thrilled to be opening our 11th Harbor Freight Tools store in Mississippi and very pleased by the warm welcome we’ve received in Gautier” said Eric Smidt, president of Harbor Freight Tools. He said the company delivers “high quality tools at ridiculously low prices.”
April Havens, Gautier’s grants and projects director, said Harbor Freight has worked with the city to find the right location and now is ready to go on the project. An outbuilding on the site has already been removed, and she said the company is preparing to make improvements to the building.
She’s working on more development and said, “Keep your eye on Gautier because things are happening.”
On Tuesday, the Gautier City Council agreed to enter into an agreement with ERM Properties and Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District to bring Harbor Freight to Gautier, using the Commercial Redevelopment Incentive Grant Program through SMPDD.
Gautier is the first municipality in South Mississippi to participate in the grant program, which provides incentives to attract retail development in the city. The city pledged up to 35 percent of the increased sales tax the city receives from the store for up to 15 years to fund the redevelopment grant.
“Without the city’s assistance in getting the development grants, our project would likely not have gone forward in Gautier,” said Ryan Markle, a member of ERM Properties. He said given the proximity to local industry and a strong labor force, “we find Harbor Freight to be an excellent fit for not only Gautier, but adjacent communities.”