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GULFPORT, Miss. -- A Mississippi Gulf Coast port has fewer maritime jobs now than it did before a $570 million restoration and expansion project funded by a federal grant.

But the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says the state is complying with job-creation requirements. The Sun Herald reports that Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is calling the project a success.

Mississippi Development Authority pledged to create 1,300 full-time maritime jobs at the Port of Gulfport in exchange for money HUD provided for economic development after Hurricane Katrina, which struck in 2005 and damaged the port.

HUD had long questioned whether the port was meeting job goals but said in a June 25 letter that its concerns have been resolved.

A HUD report attached to the letter shows how the port satisfied HUD's critical finding on jobs, issued in 2013.

The federal agency allowed the port to begin counting jobs Island View Casino Resort added with its own investment in a new hotel tower on port property. When the hotel jobs turned out to be too few, HUD showed the state how to recalculate the numbers so part-time hotel jobs could be converted to full-time positions based on hours worked.

The state counts 1,167 jobs at the casino hotel, raising the total of jobs created to almost 1,500. HUD estimates 94% to 96% of the hotel jobs pay low to moderate wages.

The number of higher-paying maritime jobs the port created totals only 262, which adds up to a project cost of almost $2.2 million per job.

Counting jobs that existed before the construction project started in 2008, the port has a net loss of maritime jobs.

SundayMonday Business on 07/07/2019

Print Headline: Port jobs fewer after infusion

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