Top stories of 2019: Government, economic leaders begin evaluating new port ideas

Published 12:30 pm Wednesday, January 1, 2020

During much of 2019, government and economic leaders worked through the ideas of either expanding the current Port of Vicksburg or creating a new, second port.

The proposed new port was a key item in a $55 million capital improvement program proposed by Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. in April 2018 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.

As late as October, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen was 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.

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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.

In October, the board hired Seabury Maritime of Edison, N.J., for an amount not to exceed $186,975 to perform a marketing analysis that will determine the feasibility of building a new port. The analysis is expected to be completed by January.

“They’re going to determine whether or not the market will sustain a new port or to expand the existing port,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said.

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