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Commission names new state port director

Jonathan Daniels has been named the new executive director of the Mississippi State Port Authority in Gulfport.

The Mississippi State Port Authority revealed Monday morning that Daniels will replace Don Allee, who resigned last year in the middle of some controversy about the port’s expansion. Daniels comes to Mississippi from the Port of Oswego in upstate New York. He had been there since 2007.

He is familiar with the Gulf South region, having served as managing director of the Port of Greater Baton Rouge before heading to the Northeast. Daniels will start in mid-June.

“We are very pleased to be successful in landing a person with the experience and credentials of Jonathan Daniels,” said Jim Simpson, port commission president. “Jonathan has port management, international trade and economic development experience and that is the ideal combination of skill sets we need in a leader.”

Port commissioners started searching for Allee’s permanent replacement inDecember. Allee had been at the port 11 years, but resigned in October in the middle of some disagreement over a few details of the port’s $570 million expansion paid for by Hurricane Katrina relief money.

The expansion reached a milestone earlier this month when the last load of “fill” was dumped on the west pier. The project’s completion date, which to go with filling the west pier will include deepening the port’s channel to 45 feet, is scheduled for 2015. The expansion will add around 1,300 jobs, to go with the 1,200 already employed there. Officials still hope it can attract as many large ships carrying textiles, automotive parts and fruit to Europe and Asia.

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