Diaz: Good month at port

Published 8:00 pm Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pablo Diaz, the executive director of the Vicksburg Warren Chamber of Commerce and Port Commission, gave the Warren County Board of Supervisors an update on activities at the port during a work session on Monday.

Diaz told the supervisors the port had revenue of $129,771 for the month of September, mainly due to the renewal of leases.

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“Pretty much, the month was good,” Diaz said. “We didn’t have any huge emergencies.”

He said WATCO spent more than $14,000 with $1,100 going toward maintenance of the overhead crane and an additional $12,000 on buildings and structures, mainly on repairing a damaged column.

Diaz said the Port Commission has decided to continue with quarterly inspections and limit the amount of money spent on the quarterly inspections to $1,000.

He said engineering firm Stantec is working with Diaz to pre-plan the inspections “to make sure we are looking in the right places.”

He said doing so will ensure repairs are made quickly rather than waiting months or years.

Diaz said work on the Warehouse 3 project is moving forward after the supervisors signed off on a Mississippi Department of Transportation grant.

He also discussed a fence around the lagoon at the port and the commission is working on deciding if they want to run the fence from the property line or enclose the lagoon to prevent trespassers. He said they hope to make a decision during their Monday meeting.

Diaz said the negotiations on property at the Ceres Industrial Park with Sendon “has been slow” and he informed the company he would like to put the property back on the market “if they are not going to move fast.

“I think that lit a fire under them and they are working on it and promise to have something back to us this week,” Diaz said.

He said a strategic plan meeting will be held among all those involved “very soon.

“I expect the process to take about six months from when we start to have a completed strategic plan we can have a united front to present to the community,” Diaz said of developing the strategic plan.

He said a recent manufacturers round table meeting went really well and the “workforce training and education were hot topics.” He said another will be held soon with Hinds Community College leading the discussion.

“This will bring the manufacturing community together to let them know what is being offered (at the industrial park,” Diaz said. Supervisor Charles Selmon said he is concerned that more businesses are not signing up for work readiness projects. “Hinds is involved in trying to get this community work ready for future development,” Selmon said. “We’re falling behind as far as work readiness and don’t have a lot of people signed up in Warren County. Other county’s have already been deemed work ready. You have to have a percentage of the county signed up to be work ready. It’s a big effort to say we are ready to go to work in Warren County. We have to get on board with that and maybe you leading the charge getting businesses to understand what it means to be work ready.”

Selmon mentioned the Continental Tire Co. that will be coming into Clinton and “letting them know Warren County is work ready.”

Diaz agreed with Selmon and said the chamber luncheon in December will deal with workforce readiness.

“It will really explain the value to the membership of the chamber and companies at-large,” Diaz said. “You are right. We are a little bit behind on that and we are working hard on that.”

Diaz said he hopes to have the county workforce ready certified by January.

The board of supervisor is scheduled to have its regular meeting Monday at 9 a.m. courthouse.