By Paul DeMarco
Alabama’s roots have always been those men and women that farmed the land. As the state grew, natural resources including coal, coke and iron ore became important products. Manufacturing has now put Alabama on the map when it comes to auto, aviation and shipping.
Thus, the gains being made at the Port of Mobile are not surprising. This past year, the Alabama Port Authority had record production, with double digit growth of shipping containers. In addition, all of the supply chain issues we have seen these past couple of years across the Nation, particularly, in the West Coast, have shown that there have to be other locations for manufacturers to ship their products. Alabama’s central geography is indeed an advantage for the state, but Mobile Bay has never been deep enough for some of the larger ships.
However, there are a number of important infrastructure projects for the state port under construction. The channel is being dredged and widened. Once that work is complete, the Port of Mobile will be have the deepest terminal for ship containers in the Gulf of Mexico. Add to that, the state will increase the access to rail facilities at the docks themselves and intermodal facilities in central and north Alabama.
That is the ninth year shipping has increased at the Port. While the port is growing, so has the economic impact on the state of Alabama, which has amounted to the tune of $85 billion in recent years to the state. Those dollars are important to all of Alabama because they result in more jobs for our citizens and more revenue to both local and state government.
While agriculture, manufacturing and the state’s natural resources are the back bone of the state economy, the Port of Mobile will continue to be an integral part of the future of Alabama.
Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives and can be found on Twitter @Paul_DeMarco