Lease negotiations between Dole Fresh Fruit Co., and the Port of Gulfport could extend Dole’s presence — and capacity — at the port for more than two decades.
The Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole and the Mississippi State Port Authority are in final lease negotiations for a 13-year extension with two additional five-year extension options.
Under the agreement, Dole could remain in Gulfport, Miss., through 2037.
The agreement allows Dole to relocate its operations to the west pier, a move that is expected to significantly increase the port’s capacity, according to the release.
At Gulfport, Dole works with more than 140,000 square feet of warehouse capacity and 24 acres of open storage and container parking space on the port’s east pier.
The new terminal on the west pier offers 40 acres and will allow Dole to increase container storage capacity by nearly 50%, according to the release. The new warehouse complex increases dry storage capacity and includes construction of 20,000 square feet of refrigerated capacity.
According to news reports, the port plans to spend $30 million on west pier terminal improvements.
The money originates from $570 million in federal funds for west pier expansion and post-Katrina restoration in exchange for creating 1,300 jobs, according to the reports.
“We have been at the Port of Gulfport for 50 years, and this agreement affirms our continued commitment to the people of Mississippi,” Barry Jung, Dole’s director of North American terminal operations, said in the release. “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.”
Dole’s extension follows the May announcement of Charlotte, N.C.-based Chiquita Brands International Inc.’s planned relocation from Gulfport to the Port of New Orleans.
The port is pleased with Dole’s loyalty to the port, said Jonathan Daniels, the port authority’s 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,” he said in the release. “The state of Mississippi is making a significant financial investment in the company.”