Roger F. Wicker Center For Ocean Enterprise:
Through our partnership with the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), we have been able to develop a roadmap that will build new capacity for Mississippi’s Blue Economy. In December 2022, the Port of Gulfport reached substantial completion on the Roger F. Wicker Center for Ocean Enterprise, which will bolster the region’s Blue Economy and create a unique maritime technology environment for the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Center for Ocean Enterprise encompasses nearly 62,000 sq. ft. and will be located near the Port of Gulfport’s North Harbor site. The proximity to the water for vessel access, maintenance, and testing was a critical component of site selection. The building includes administrative offices, classrooms, laboratories, and storage areas.
USDOT Maritime Administration- Port Infrastructure Development Program Grant:
In February 2020, the Port of Gulfport was awarded a $15.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Maritime Administration (MARAD) as part of the new Port Infrastructure Development Program. This funding is designed to improve port facilities at or near coastal seaports. As a grant recipient, the funds will be used for the construction of the Port of Gulfport Access Project. The proposed project is located just north of the port’s western entrance. The Port of Gulfport is strategically located along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and is in a Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZ).
Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment Grant:
The Port of Gulfport is working with the Mississippi Defense Initiative (MDI), housed at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Trent Lott National Center, on an 18-month grant that will assist in developing strategic plans for defense economies on the Mississippi Coast through the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation and the Port of Gulfport. The grant is a Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment (DoD OEA) award, and it will be used by MDI to implement Phase 3 of MDI’s mission to promote and diversify the state’s defense economy through three main industry sectors: blue economy, aerospace, and national security.
Channel & Harbor Dredging:
The goal of a deeper navigational channel is still part of the broader strategic plan to create a more competitive port. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers oversees the maintenance dredging and is typically funded fully by the federal government. Currently, the channel is dredged to its full operational depth of 36 feet. To encourage future growth, the Port is pursuing the necessary approvals to deepen the channel up to 47 feet to allow for larger vessels to enter Gulfport. As the Port looks to further expand our footprint, the process to deepen the channel is a multi-year effort including congressional, regulatory and federal agency approvals to move forward.
Department of Marine Resources Oyster Hatchery (Small Craft Harbor):
The Department of Marine Resources, the Port of Gulfport, The University of Southern Mississippi, and the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services have all teamed up to grow baby oysters in tanks in the Port of Gulfport’s Small Craft Harbor. Baby oysters are going to sit in tanks for about ten days before they’re taken to the reefs in Pass Christian and Biloxi where they’re going to continue to grow for the next 18 to 24 months in hopes of restoring the oyster reefs in those areas.