Harrison County

Port of Gulfport has another secretive deal in works

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALDPort of Gulfport director Jonathan Daniels smiles as he talks about the three new gantry cranes, left, that were delivered to the port on Friday March 18, 2016.
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALDPort of Gulfport director Jonathan Daniels smiles as he talks about the three new gantry cranes, left, that were delivered to the port on Friday March 18, 2016. SUN HERALD

BILOXI -- Something's up at the State Port in Gulfport, but as usual, it's happening in secret.

Port Executive Director Jonathan Daniels and county development officials met with the Harrison County Board of Supervisors in an executive session that wasn't on the agenda. And afterwards, all anyone would say was the executive session dealt with economic development and a project code-named Aqua.

"I don't who comes up with the names," joked board attorney Tim Holleman after explaining the reason for the executive session. The law says boards can call an executive session, among other things, for the "transaction of business and discussions or negotiations regarding the location, relocation or expansion of a business, medical service or an industry."

Supervisor Marlin Ladner criticized an earlier deal that brought Topship to Gulfport, saying the secrecy surround the deal had the supervisors signing it before they knew all the details. That deal has TopShip investing $68 million and promising to have 1,000 jobs at the Inland Port in exchange for $36 million in incentives, which includes a 10-year county property tax exemption from valued at $450,000.

Ladner didn't comment on the Aqua project.

All Holleman would say about this deal is "it would be good if it comes to fruition" and wouldn't require any county money.

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