PORTS & WATERWAYS
From Mississippi Development Guide 2023
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LIQUID ASSETS: 16 Ports Hone Mississippi’s Logistics Edge

Gulfport, Pascagoula, Biloxi and other ports keep maritime commerce humming.

PORTS & WATERWAYS
The Port of Gulfport is the third largest container port on the Gulf of Mexico and the second largest importer of green fruit.
Photo courtesy of Port of Gulfport

by MARK AREND
Y

es, Mississippi has three Gulf Coast ports — Bay St. Louis, Gulfport and Pascagoula. But don’t forget about all the ports in the northeast part of the state. The Magnolia State is home to no fewer than 16 ports, most of them on the Tombigbee River or Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, giving companies a critical logistics asset for moving raw materials in and finished goods out to their destinations worldwide.

It’s hard to believe that a waterway — so narrow in parts as the Tenn-Tom is that it barely shows up on Google Maps — is so vital to northeast Mississippi industry. But it is to companies like Tronox, which operates a titanium dioxide pigment plant in Hamilton, just north of the Columbus Air Force Base in the Golden Triangle, with more than 400 employees. It’s the company’s largest such plant, and one of Mississippi’s largest manufacturing facilities. Tronox ships its TiO₂ to more than 30 countries.

The Aberdeen Port in Monroe County serves such local companies as Enterprise Products Partners L.P., a provider of midstream energy services, and Nanocor, a global supplier of nanoclays for plastic nanocomposites. The Lowndes County Port in Columbus is a multimodal transportation hub with onsite Class 1 rail. It provides barge-truck-rail services, warehousing and other amenities for steel producer and metal recycler Steel Dynamics, container terminal and cargo operator SSA Marine, which also has an operation in Gulfport, and Watco, a transportation and supply-chain services company.

The 250-acre Port of Gulfport has 6,000 feet of berthing space, 400,000 square feet of warehouse space, a roll-on/roll-off ramp and 
two 100-ton capacity mobile harbor cranes.

Other ports along the Tenn-Tom — including Port Itawamba, Amory Port and the Yellow Creek State Inland Port, among others — provide intermodal logistics assets to steel companies and others requiring general cargo and bulk product transportation.

On the Mississippi River, the Port of Vicksburg handles 14 million tons of freight annually and is the site of the only rail crossing of the river in the state. It’s a Foreign Trade Zone with Class I rail service. And the Port of Natchez-Adams County provides barge loading and unloading and liquids handling among other services and has two cargo docks, a roll-on/roll-off site and three warehouses.

Gulfport and Other Gulf Ports

Mississippi’s Gulf Coast is home to the Port of Pascagoula, a full-service deepwater port with two harbors and public and private terminals that handle more than 30 million tons of cargo annually. It’s one of the top 20 ports handling foreign cargo. Pascagoula is the home port of the U.S. Maritime Administration’s Ready Reserve Force vessels M/V Cape Arundel and M/V Cape Cortes.

Port Bienville, a shallow-draft port in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, has 3,600 acres available for industrial development. 

The 250-acre Port of Gulfport has 6,000 feet of berthing space, 400,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space, a roll-on/roll-off ramp and two 100-ton capacity mobile harbor cranes. In April, the Mississippi State Port Authority at Gulfport was awarded $2.6 million from the state’s new Strategic Multi-Modal Investment Fund for infrastructure improvements. The funds will improve efficiency of rail and cargo movements.

In February, CORE X GULFPORT signed a long-term lease agreement with the port where it will construct a 150,000-sq.-ft. cold storage facility. The $73 million project will create, coincidentally, 73 new jobs. The company says the facility will provide 21,000 pallet positions with blast freezing capacity for 440 pallets, 45 refrigerated container plugs, multiple temperature zones, USDA inspection services, Customs AG Specialists Inspections, and trans-loading services. 

The Mississippi State Port Authority at Gulfport was awarded $2.6 million from the state’s new Strategic Multi-Modal Investment Fund for infrastructure improvements.

Governor Tate Reeves weighed in on the significance of the project to the state’s booming logistics industry: “This is another great economic win for Mississippi and our Gulf Coast,” he noted at the project announcement. “We’re attracting business after business and creating thousands of jobs across our state. The collaboration between the Mississippi Development Authority, CORE X, and Port of Gulfport underscores the state’s commitment to fostering growth, creating quality employment opportunities and further establishing Mississippi as a leader in the global logistics industry. The Mississippi momentum continues.”

Mark Arend
Editor Emeritus of Site Selection magazine

Mark Arend

Mark Arend is editor emeritus of Site Selection, and previously served as editor in chief from 2001 to 2023. Prior to joining the editorial staff in 1997, he worked for 10 years in New York City at Wall Street Computer Review, ABA Banking Journal and Global Investment Technology. Mark graduated from the University of Hartford (Conn.) in 1985 and lives near Atlanta, Georgia.

 

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