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City reviewing proposals for new port marketing analysis

Six out-of-state consulting firms have submitted proposals to perform a marketing analysis for a proposed new port for Vicksburg.

The proposals were received Monday during the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s meeting and referred to the special seven-member port committee appointed by Mayor George Flaggs Jr. for review.

“The committee will review them carefully and rank them and bring our recommendation back to the board,” said Pablo Diaz, executive director of the Vicksburg-Warren Economic Development Foundation. Diaz, who also serves as director of the Warren County Port Commission, is the committee chairman.

“The marketing analysis, we expect to be completed by the end of January,” he said.

Companies seeking the contract for the analysis include Cambridge Systems, Cambridge, Mass.; Global Logistics Partners, Scottsdale, Ariz.; John C. Martin Associates LLC, Lancaster, Pa.; Seabury Marine, Edison N.J.; IHS Agribusiness Markit, London, England, with an American office; and Mercator, Seattle, Wash.

In June, the board signed a contract not to exceed $240,000 with Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. of Atlanta, Ga., to help the city negotiate the process to begin the feasibility study.

The marketing analysis is the first phase of the four-phase study, with the selected consultant examining the available facilities and land, available markets and whether it is feasible to expand or redevelop facilities in order to gain increased business.

The proposed new port is the key item in a $55 million capital improvement program proposed by Flaggs that would be funded by a 1-cent sales tax. About $26.5 million of the money would serve as matching funds for the port, which Flaggs estimated would be $125 million.

Flaggs announced the proposed program in April 2018, calling it a “game changer.”

“If we build that port, that’s 500 jobs. If we do that, that’s the biggest game changer since the Civil War in Vicksburg, Mississippi,” he said when he announced the plan.

The board is expected to seek a local and private, or special bill, during the 2020 session of the Mississippi Legislature to hold a referendum on the 1-cent tax to fund the capital improvements program.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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