Editorial: Developments at the state port continue to be underwhelming

Sun HeraldTuesday’s announcement of the state Port at Gulfport having recruited a couple of “prospective” customers was a weak attempt to put a positive spin on what really amounts to a nonevent. Especially considering the possible tenants will require dredging the channel, a multimillion-dollar project that remains unfunded.

The nonevent was the release of a “Status Report on the Port of Gulfport Restoration Project.” Its 19 pages had a lot of big numbers, especially when it came to how much money has been spent and how much dirt has been moved.

There was also a great deal of attention given to what the port was going to do and what Gov. Phil Bryant’s objectives are for the port.

But in the end, the report was another example of shuffling statistics to paint as pretty a picture as possible of post-Katrina conditions at the port.

And it just doesn’t work any more.

We long ago accepted the fact that we and many others were overly eager to buy into the “Port of the Future” concept initiated by then-Gov. Haley Barbour.

Since then, we have tempered our enthusiasm for spending hundreds of millions of federal dollars at the port just because it is available.

And, at least for a time, it seemed that a sense of reality had returned to the port and business was going to be conducted in, well, a more business-like manner.

But now the port has returned to the days of big talk with little to show for it.

Once again, we hear of grandiose plans, enormous accomplishments, stupendous strategies and potential (unnamed, of course) customers.

What we have yet to hear are reports of new jobs. Currently, the port claims that it supports “approximately 1,000 direct jobs” and, “with restoration,” it will create “approximately 1,200 new jobs.”

Spare us another press conference until then. People on the Coast have lost patience with officials long on promises and short on results.

At this point, only results matter.

This editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board,which consists of President-Publisher Glen Nardi,Vice President and Executive Editor Stan Tiner,Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Flora S. Point,Audience and Human Resources Director Wanda Howell,Marketing and Interactive Director John McFarland and Associate Editor Tony Biffle. Opinions expressed by columnists, cartoonists and letter writers are their own.