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The Port of Gulfport

Mississippi State Port director leaving for job in Florida

The director who has overseen expansion of the Mississippi State Port of Gulfport in recent years is resigning June 30 to accept a job in Florida.

Jonathan Daniels will become the chief executive officer and executive director at Port Everglades in Broward County. He said he will be moving closer to three of his four children.

The Sun Herald reported that when Daniels started the Mississippi job in June 2013, the port was in the middle of a $570 million West Pier restoration and expansion. The project, now complete, was funded by the federal government for economic development after Hurricane Katrina.

Daniels secured long-term leases with the port’s mainstay cargo lines, Chiquita, Dole and Crowley, and with Chemours Co.

The port has diversified business with the Roger F. Wicker Center for Ocean Enterprise operated by the University of Southern Mississippi. The center is involved in research and development in the Gulf of Mexico, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association is basing an unmanned maritime systems program there.

Island View Casino Resort has invested $130 million on port property with a South Beach Tower hotel and casino expansion.

“We’ve transitioned from being just purely a shipping port to an economic development agency that has transportation at its core,” Daniels told the newspaper.

He said the port’s annual revenue base has doubled and diversified.

In 2013, 57% of port revenue came from gambling. Today, gambling revenue is at 32%, with maritime and other business activity constituting 68% of revenue.

The commissioners for the Mississippi port plan a national search for a new director.

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