Mississippi County Harbor Plans Stalled by U.S. Senate - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Blytheville, AR--Shannon Johnson Reports

Mississippi County Harbor Plans Stalled by U.S. Senate

March 30, 2005--Posted at 6:10 p.m. CST

BLYTHEVILLE-- Mississippi County is the largest cotton producing county in the state, but exporting the product on rails cars and trucks isn't as feasible as it used to be.

County Judge Steve McGuire says,"The shipping of cotton is going back to shipping on the river."

Barge freight is the cheapest mode of transportation for many industries, and seeing that Mississippi County has the mighty Mississippi in their backyard.

Business leaders could save some mega bucks with a harbor.

Vice President of Maverick Tube Jeff Shorter says, "With our expansion plans we would most likely send more and more product out through the ports we are looking at some international business and some South American business."

Port access would certainly stimulate economic growth.

State and local officials have been trying to capitalize on the idea for years, but they need congressional authorization for the corps of engineers to partially fund and construct the harbor.

Congressman Marion Berry says, "We've had a piece of legislation that's been hung up in the U.S. Senate for three years and we can't get it to move."

The bill got out of the house three years ago and again last year.

The senate is doing some political wrangling but...

"We have an unspoken agreement or unwritten agreement that we're going to get this authorized one way or another this year," Berry says.

The cost benefit ratio of this project is 1:24 that means for every dollar spent on the project the community will reap $24 in economic growth. It's a concept that has surrounding counties saying we don't want to miss the boat either.

"I have been approached by the ceo of joining counties concerning entering into a local agreement about them being able to utilize this port facility," McGuire says.

That's if Uncle Sam and Old Man River can it get together.

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