Harrison County

Harrison County gives tax breaks to bit manufacturer, shipyard

GULF COAST SHIPYARD GROUP 
 The Harvey Energy, the first LNG-powered vessel in the United States, was built at Gulf Coast Shipyard Group in Gulfport for Harvey Gulf International Marine shortly before Harvey bought the shipyard.
GULF COAST SHIPYARD GROUP The Harvey Energy, the first LNG-powered vessel in the United States, was built at Gulf Coast Shipyard Group in Gulfport for Harvey Gulf International Marine shortly before Harvey bought the shipyard.

BILOXI -- On the day Harrison County supervisors OK'd tax breaks for a $450 million project at the state port, it also approved breaks for smaller projects.

Metadyne Gulfport will be exempt from personal-property taxes, about $14,000 a year, for five years.

Metadyne makes carbide bits for the mining, construction and other industries in a building once occupied by Hydro Carbide on Seaway Road in Gulfport.

Supervisor Marlin Ladner said the company also received a $55,000 grant from the state, something he said he wished the county could take into consideration, but current policy on exemption doesn't allow that to be factored in.

"Whether it's a grant or whether it's a tax exemption, it all comes from the same pocket -- the public," Ladner said.

Metadyne employs 20 people, said Harrison County Development Commission Executive Director Bill Hessell.

Gulf Coast Shipyard Group will be exempt from 85 percent of its personal-property taxes, the supervisors said. Hessell said the Shipyard Group didn't get a 100 percent exemption because it laid off people due to the downturn in the oil industry.

It's not clear how much the exemption is worth. Hessell said it was about $6,700 but Ladner said by his calculations it would be closer to $5,000.

Jeff Henderson, vice president for finance for the Shipyard Group, said if Harvey Gulf Marine had not stepped up and bought Gulf Coast Shipyard Group and Trinity Yachts, the shipyard would have gone under.

"The shipyard was going through financial difficulties, it was on the verge of complete bankruptcy," he said. "We made a capital investment of $40 million to acquire the shipyard and sustain operations."

At the time of the sale in June 2015, former owner John Dane III told the Sun Herald, "I left the company in good shape with good people in place."

It employed 850 people when it was sold. Now, Henderson said, it employs 250.

Henderson said the layoffs were temporary and he expected the oil industry to rebound, although it faces "12 to 14 months of difficult times."

The shipyard on Seaway Road builds a variety of boats that service the offshore oil industry.

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