Jackson County

Governor announces 100 new jobs in Pascagoula and says more could be on the way

Gov. Phil Bryant, in South Mississippi for Cruisin’ The Coast, announced 100 new jobs are coming to Pascagoula to support the construction of U.S. Coast Guard polar ships.

Friday’s announcement was made at Jamestown Metal on Chicot Road. The company will expand its operations in Jackson County to fulfill its contracts with VT Halter Marine.

Mississippi Development Authority will contribute funds for the partial demolition of the company’s current facility and construction of its new warehouse and fabrication facility.

These are “immediate” jobs, said Ronald Baczkowski, president of VT Halter Marine. “We are looking for welders, ship fitters, pipe welders — just about any craft there is,” he said, and especially welders.

“These are good-paying jobs now, and they also can lead to great-paying jobs in the future,” Baczkowski said. “All of our superintendents are making at least six figures” (in excess of $100,000), he said, “and they all started in the crafts.”

In May, the U.S. Navy announced VT Halter in Pascagoula as the prime contractor of a $746 million contract to build the U.S. Coast Guard polar icebreaker and 900 new jobs to South Mississippi. With options, the contract could be nearly $2 billion.

“We are actually seeing that it’s not just benefiting us, it’s benefiting other business in Jackson County,” Baczkowski said.

Bryant said economic development is a team sport in Mississippi, and he would put MDA and the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation against any other state.

“There’s nothing I like better than to hear other states are worried about Mississippi,” he said. Mississippi has secured so much business, he said, “I think they’re going to give me a going-away party in Memphis and maybe in Louisiana.”

In his 93 days remaining as governor, Bryant said he expects to be back in Jackson County for another development announcement or ribbon cutting.

Mary Perez is the business and casino reporter for the Sun Herald and also writes about Biloxi, jobs and the new restaurants and development coming to the Coast. She is a fourth-generation journalist.