Port & Harbor’s aerospace initiative wins economic development award

August 10, 2021

KILN, MISS. – The Mississippi Economic Development Council (MEDC) recently announced that Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission’s aerospace strategy project won the 2020 Community Economic Development Award (CEDA).

The CEDA program is a “Best Practices” program intended to recognize exceptional contributions of communities in Mississippi for the following efforts: business retention and expansion, business recruitment, community development and community involvement. 

Home to NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center, Hancock County set out to become Mississippi’s cornerstone for space exploration and investment. Led by Port and Harbor Commission, the aerospace strategy aggressively marketed and leveraged the multimodal assets that contribute to the aerospace industry.

The Port and Harbor Commission invested over $7 million to grow its portfolio of hangars and technology parks to support growth. The commission also assembled businesses, elected officials, local leaders and other stakeholders to build a partnership cluster with a common goal for the county. 

Through the aerospace strategy, Hancock County has grown 230 new jobs and seen nearly $100 million in capital investment in aerospace development. The average aerospace wage in the county is over $113,000 which exceeds the national average.

Additionally, the partnership cluster approach led to Pearl River Community College’s announcement of a $10 million workforce development center where the next generation of aerospace engineers and technicians will be trained.

MEDC is a professional association of economic development, chambers and associated stakeholders who work together to advance the profession and to advance economic development efforts in Mississippi through advocacy, collaboration, education and by providing resources to its members.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Hancock County Port & Harbor Commissioner Michael Casano, Cooperative Energy Director of Economic Development Mitch Stringer, Stennis International Airport Director Chanse Watson, Hancock County Port & Harbor Project Manager Obie McClure, Hancock Port & Harbor CEO Bill Cotter, Hancock County Port & Harbor Commissioner Aline Ward, Hancock County Port & Harbor Commissioner Bob Swanson, Hancock County Port & Harbor Commissioner David Holman and Mississippi Economic Development Council Executive Director Gwen Howard.


The Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission was established in 1963 to lead the county’s economic development activities. Stennis International Airport and Port Bienville Industrial Park are home to 30 companies with more than 1,000 employees. For more information visit www.portairspace.com.