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At last week’s Joint Commodity Conference in Durham, Glenn Carlson with the NC Ports Authority made a point of saying that the ports in North Carolina are under-utilized. One of his solutions to ramp up business in the port of Wilmington and Morehead City was for commodity groups to band together to create more business:
Carlson: By pooling the volumes from the different associations, the cotton association, the soybean association, whatever gives us more leverage to offer to a carrier to meet their thresholds to consider adding a port-of-call, and it’s that combined volume that we could use to do that very thing.
SFN: Now, there isn’t any question of these ports handling these vessels…
Carlson: Under today’s vessel sizes, there’s no problem handling them. We hadn’t Panamax-class vessels, that means that the largest vessels that go through the Panama Canal, we have the capability of handling them. We, really, are set up to handle post-Panamax vessels, which means that when they do the expansion to the Canal, we’re prepared to handle those vessels.
SFN: So, it’s really…like you and I talked the other day, it’s an infrastructure situation as well as getting the business there.
Carlson: And coordination of the different people who are the exporters, and getting them to make an association on a larger scale, pooling that volume, negotiating competitive rates and funneling that volume through Wilmington.
SFN: And as we heard from the audience, that people here don’t realize what a gift we have here with these ports, as opposed to those in the Midwest and on the Plains.
Carlson: We have competitive facilities, I joked about it at the beginning of my presentation of being at the end of a long road and not having the right equipment. We have invested more than $50 million in our ports in the last five years. We’re ready to handle it.
SFN: Outstanding. We’ve heard a lot about South Carolina putting a lot of money into Port of Charleston. Where do you see that falling in our future?
Carlson: The real issue is getting the federal funding to do the deepening of the channel, and that’s a step the state has to decide in the Commercial Maritime Study, how it’s going to invest, are we going to have competitive ports in the future? That’s what this Study is going to hopefully provide the direction in the state to insure that we remain competitive.
The first phase of that maritime study is due out any day, with a release date of the final phase in mid-March.
Glenn Carlson of the North Carolina Ports Authority spoke at last week’s 23rd Annual Joint Commodity Conference in Durham.