Jackson County

Lots of new jobs for Jackson County? Leaders dispute candidate’s claim

Dane Maxwell, left, said Thursday at an event to announce his bid for Pascagoula mayor that he is bringing a major new business to Singing River Island. Jackson County Economic Development Foundation Director George Freeland, right, said that’s not true.
Dane Maxwell, left, said Thursday at an event to announce his bid for Pascagoula mayor that he is bringing a major new business to Singing River Island. Jackson County Economic Development Foundation Director George Freeland, right, said that’s not true.

Jackson County has an Economic Development Foundation, which county and city tax dollars and private industry pay to bring companies and jobs to the county.

But a new candidate for mayor of Pascagoula has announced he is working with the governor and Secretary of State to bring a new business to Singing River Island (the former Navy Homeport) that will supply many jobs for the area, but it doesn’t involve the foundation.

Gov. Phil Bryant was at candidate Dane Maxwell’s announcement party Thursday night, and supporters say “it was mentioned by both,” but there was no company named or timeline given.

Maxwell told the Sun Herald on Friday the business involves a company that deals with unmanned systems, such as drones, that would move to Pascagoula. His political supporters told the Sun Herald the jobs created would be in the thousands and involve bringing in an institution for workforce training.

County Economic Development Foundation Director George Freeland, however, had this to say: “The project represented does not exist. There is no project of such a description that would merit the forecasting of such job creation and economic benefit.”

In a formal statement, Freeland said: “To our knowledge (and we would know), there is no project .... And we are confident, that would also be the same assessment of county, city and state agencies involved in economic development in Jackson County.”

Maxwell was undaunted Friday. He said he was not working with the Economic Development Foundation, but rather with state officials. He said his strategy has been to approach companies and ask them to move to Pascagoula.

“I went and asked,” he said. “A lot of times you can get things by asking for them. Some of these guys in politics don’t understand that.”

He said, however, “I don’t actually know how and when they’ll do it.”

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