PEER released their highly-anticipated report last Friday on the Port of Gulfport, and, as suspected, it doesn't look good.
According to the report, the Port of Gulfport, is not on track to meet any of the job creation goals set forth when MDA requested a waiver with HUD to divert money from affordable housing, and the earliest projections of meeting those goals lie somewhere around 2035.
When the waiver was granted in 2007, a goal of 5,400 total jobs, 2,586 of which were anticipated to be permanent direct maritime jobs, was set. According to PEER, this would be a total increase of 2200 jobs (and increase of 530 direct maritime jobs) over pre-Katrina levels. Additionally, plans and procedures to hire low-income and moderate income employees were to be developed.
But the report describes a rather bleak situation. Before Katrina hit, 2,058 people were employed in direct maritime jobs. In 2007, 1,286 people were employed in direct maritime jobs. Today, that number sits at 1,113. And, this number may actually be overly estimated according to the International Longshoremen's Association, taking the real total possibly as low as 785.
While we've been told these jobs are coming within three years of the ports completion date (reported as 2015 in the PEER report and since changed to 2016), MDA has been telling HUD since 2012 its more realistic prediction of 2035. And while MDA is under a directive from HUD to make jobs available to low and moderate-income individuals, HUD has found no evidence that MDA is complying with this stipulation.
Facts are facts and numbers are numbers - Mississippi is building a Port to Nowhere, and we're losing jobs doing it.