GULFPORT — Dole Foods Chairman and CEO David Murdock says he won’t sign a new lease with the Port of Gulfport until he sees more progress on the $570 million West Pier restoration, an expansion funded by federal Hurricane Katrina relief money.
Murdock, 91, was on the Mississippi coast Thursday for the celebration of Dole’s 50th anniversary at the port.
“I came in here because I wanted to see what is going on. I’m anxious to get this job finished.
“They’ve got to do something for us,” Murdock said, “because it’s a mess here. Their schedule is unsatisfactory to me. Too slow. We’re going to stay, but we want them to be more considerate of us.”
Dole’s port lease expires in 2017. Despite a consultant’s urging in August 2012 that the port secure a new longer-term lease with the company to support port-funded improvements, negotiations are only beginning.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant told a meeting to greet Dole executives that it’s critical that the port keep Dole on the coast in the wake of the recent announcement that Chiquita will be leaving for New Orleans later this year.