USA: Future Looks Bright for North Carolina’s Ports
North Carolina State Ports Authority (NCSPA) Interim CEO Jeff Strader reported on Thursday that on the whole, the state of North Carolina’s Ports is strong. In the last year the ports in Wilmington and Morehead City saw business growth and revenue increases, and overall there is a renewed sense of importance for the role which state’s ports play in economic development and logistics.
“Revenues are up and expenses are down,” said Strader in the annual State of the Ports presentation to the Cape Fear Chapter of the NC World Trade Association. “That means a bottom-line profit for the Authority to date this fiscal year, putting us in our strongest financial position since 2008. With new business opportunities, largely in the agriculture sector, we continue to grow and post improved financial results each year – even in these tough economic times.”
The NC Ports ended calendar year 2011 by outpacing neighboring ports with volume growth at both Morehead City and Wilmington facilities. Container movements increased more than 11 percent and general breakbulk cargo increased 8 percent for the year, positioning NC Ports for a successful fiscal year 2012.
NC Ports continued to serve vital industries in our state, from agriculture and paper products to furniture and textiles. They also began serving new lines of business through the rehabilitation of the wood chip facilities in Morehead City and Wilmington. Forestry, logging, and wood products manufacturing contribute well over $6 billion to North Carolina’s economy and employ nearly 75,000 people in the state.
North Carolina’s Ports are focused on the future with many statewide initiatives supporting further investment and development at port facilities.
“The Ports’ statewide economic impact and interconnectivity to businesses are factors driving the discussion about logistics in North Carolina,” said Strader. “The NC Maritime Strategy Study and the recent transfer of the Authority to the NCDOT by the General Assembly will help facilitate statewide logistics collaboration, with all logistics agencies under one umbrella, strategically planning together.”
This focus on the logistics network includes not only ports, but the interconnectivity of ports, roads and rail. This new approach will provide a framework for future development and planning to address economic development and attracting industries.
In addition to long-range logistics planning, NC Ports are focused on specific needs of individual facilities or sites. The Wilmington Harbor Navigation Improvement Study is one such project that is an immediate need for current and future customers of the Port of Wilmington. This project addresses critical navigation issues in the current channel.
“Federal funding has been allocated to the Wilmington Harbor Navigation Improvement Study that would improve safety along the navigation channel and help us better support businesses using the Port of Wilmington,” said Strader.
Military support also continues to be a large part of port operations. Just last month, the Port of Morehead City hosted the multinational joint military operation Bold Alligator as well as the return of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and the USS Bataan strike group. Six Navy vessels, one French Navy vessel and thousands of Marines utilized the services at the Port of Morehead City.
Efforts to improve sustainability at all Ports facilities continued in 2011 and the Authority was recognized for its strides. Inbound Logistics magazine named the NC State Ports Authority to its annual “G75” list of 75 Green Supply Chain Partners, making the Authority one of only four ports named in the list.
“Our Ports are a vibrant part of the fabric of North Carolina and valued neighbors,” Strader said. “From our economic forecast and business outlook, to our green practices and contributions within our communities, NC Ports are an engine moving our state forward.”
Dredging Today Staff, March 23, 2012; Image: ncports