by Ryan Labadens

Harrison County officials and leaders at Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport met at an Ideas Workshop held on the base on May 1, 2018, to discuss areas of partnership and collaboration between the county and Navy base. The main goal of the workshop was to establish the foundation for mutually beneficial and enduring partnerships between NCBC Gulfport and Harrison County. This gave members from different departments on base a chance to meet with their counterparts from the Harrison County staff and brainstorm areas where they could work together. It also allowed them to get a better understanding of each other’s current capabilities, and needs. “What we hope the leadership can gain from this workshop is a common understanding of each other’s capabilities, the requirements they’re looking to meet, and any issues they may be having that we can help each other rectify,” said Kevin Gillam, NCBC Gulfport community planning and liaison officer. “We also wanted to put together a preliminary list of ideas that we can develop into enduring partnerships that will create real value for both organizations.” Collaboration between installations and other organizations are nothing new. According to Gillam, NCBC Gulfport already has partnership agreements in place with the county, such as Mutual Aid Agreements for Fire and Emergency Services and a Memorandum of Understanding with Harrison County’s Youth Court. The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013 granted installations the authority to enter into Intergovernmental Support Agreements (IGSAs) with state and local governments, allowing them to receive, provide or share installation support services in certain circumstances. While at the workshop, county officials and their NCBC Gulfport counterparts split themselves into three breakout groups to brainstorm areas of potential collaboration: Infrastructure & Facilities Support Services; Public Safety (police, fire, first responders, and safety); and Quality of Life/Community Benefit programs. This gave subject matter experts in those areas the opportunity to learn more about what their counterparts do on a daily basis, what challenges and issues they face providing services to their customers, and discuss how they might partner to improve service while reducing the cost of those services. “It’s everyone’s responsibility to be good stewards of the tax-payer’s dollars, whether that’s at the federal, state, county or city level,” said Gillam. “This gives us the opportunity to be able to work together and pool our collective knowledge and resources so we can find new ways to better manage our expenses.” Gillam said that a follow-up meeting is planned for June so that county and base leadership and staff can narrow down their partnership ideas and discuss how they might be able to bring them to fruition. “We already have good relationships with the county and local community,” said Cmdr. Ron Jenkins, NCBC Gulfport executive officer. “But forming formal partnership agreements with them can help to further those good relationships while at the same time providing services more efficiently.”