GULFPORT, Miss.–After Chiquita decided to leave its long-time home earlier this year, some feared that Dole, which has a similar operation at the Port of Gulfport, would also leave. Those fears were put to rest Tuesday when the Port announced a new 13-year deal to keep Dole.
With two more five-year options, Dole could be in Mississippi through 2037.
Under the deal, Dole will move its operation to the west pier, which will mean a significant increase in capacity for the Port.
Dole currently occupies more than 140,000 square feet of warehouse space as well as 24 acres of open storage and container parking space on the port’s east pier, said a news release. The new terminal on the west pier will encompass almost 40 acres and will also allow them to increase container storage capacity by nearly 50 percent.The new warehouse complex will increase dry storage capacity, while also including construction of 20,000 square feet of temperature controlled space.
“Dole has been a valued member of the Port of Gulfport family for 50 years, and we look forward to many more years of partnership and success,” said Gov. Phil Bryant in a statement. “ The
progress currently underway at the Port will enhance Dole’s ability to compete effectively in a global market and allow them to expand their economic footprint in the Gulf Coast region.”
“While we are still working on the final details of the financial terms, we have come to an agreement on the length of the lease extension,”said Jonathan Daniels, MSPA executive director and CEO. “Dole’s commitment to the Port, region, and the State of Mississippi fully entrenches the company in the Gulfport community for decades to come. The state of Mississippi is making a significant financial investment in the company, and we are pleased by the loyalty Dole is showing to the state.”
“We have been at the Port of Gulfport for 50 years, and this agreement affirms our continued commitment to the people of Mississippi,” said Barry Jung, Director of North American Terminal Operations for Dole Fresh Fruit Company. “We are confident that our decision to stay in Gulfport will maintain Dole’s position as a leader in the fresh fruit market and Gulfport’s geographic location, ease to market, combined with our new terminal, creates a highly efficient environment for our import and export activities.”
The long term commitment Dole is making to the Port mirrors the agreements made in the past year and a half by tenants such as Island View, DuPont and McDermott International. If all options are renewed, Island View’s agreement totals up to 50 years, DuPont 60 years, and McDermott international for up to 40 years at the Port of Gulfport.