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Ingalls training facility contract OKs expected

PASCAGOULA — Construction could start as early as January for Jackson County’s maritime training facility to be built on Ingalls Shipbuilding property.

The Board of Supervisors and the Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners are expected to award a $15.6 million contract on Monday to Ben M. Radcliff Contractor Inc. of Mobile.

Leaders said it would take about 45 days to start construction on the 76,000-square-foot facility.

Radcliff was the low bidder, but its $16.6 million proposal was higher than budgeted, and about $1 million was cut in negotiations.

“It was value engineering to include more off-the-shelf items rather than special orders,” Port Director Mark McAndrews said.

The project was funded through a Hurricane Katrina community development block grant. It will help Ingalls expand its apprentice program to about 1,000 students.

Jackson County received the grant and the port authority is managing the project, but Ingalls will ultimately own the facility.

When Gov. Haley Barbour came to break ground on the facility in June 2010, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College was expected to operate and eventually own the building, with Ingalls being the primary tenant to bear maintenance costs.

But leaders said that deal could not be worked out legally. Mow Ingalls is the only tenant and will own the facility once its seven-year lease with the port is up.

That change delayed the project for months while design changes were made to better suit the company’s training needs.

Leaders believe the project is now back on track.

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