PEER Report Says Port Jobs May Lag Until 2035

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Jackson, Miss.
A legislative watchdog report warns that Mississippi's state-owned Port of Gulfport may not meet a goal of creating 1,300 jobs from its Hurricane Katrina recovery program until 2035.

The report by the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review was released Friday after months of delays.

The report reflects sharp disputes between the committee and the state agencies overseeing the redevelopment program. The agencies, in particular, dispute the committee's projections of future port traffic, which are the basis for job projections.

The port is spending $581 million in federal money to upgrade the port, part of $5.5 billion Congress allocated to Mississippi after Katrina.

The state agreed to create or retain 2,586 jobs at the port, but so far, the report finds jobs totals are flat or shrinking.