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Ivey touts Port of Mobile $98 billion impact as lawmakers pledge more support

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The second fastest growing port in the United States, the Port of Mobile had an economic impact of more than $98 billion in 2022, according to the Alabama Port Authority.

The record-breaking milestone was celebrated by Gov. Kay Ivey and state business leaders Thursday on the steps of the State Capitol.

“Folks, it’s another great day in our state’s success, (and) it’s no secret that our port is vital to our success,” Ivey said.

“The Port of Mobile has been growing at a faster rate than ever seen before, (and) I’m pleased to announce its impact for the past year for the state of Alabama is a staggering $98.3 billion. Folks, that’s $98 billion with a B!”

The latest economic impact figures represented an increase of more than $13 billion when compared to 2021, and an increase of $70.8 billion when compared to 2020. Ivey also touted the port’s impact on job creation.

According to the Port Authority, the Port of Mobile generated more than 351,000 direct and indirect jobs in 2022, compared to 312,000 in 2021, and 162,000 in 2020.

The port’s impact on state and local taxes had also increased dramatically in recent years, which in 2019 before the pandemic, amounted to $614 million.

“This past year, the port and its related industry gave back $2.4 billion in taxes to the state and local governments,” Ivey said. “Whether it’s through our booming automotive industry, exports of natural resources like coal and limestone, and countless other Alabama-made goods, the port touches every corner and industry in our state.”

With its sharp increase in operating revenues, which in 2022 saw an 11.4% increase over the previous year, the Port Authority intends on using more than $1 billion toward infrastructure maintenance and improvements in both Mobile and at inland ports throughout the state, according to John Driscoll, Port Authority director.

“Especially at the McDuffie Terminal, we have two cranes that are 50-plus years old, and they’re not cheap, they’re $25 million-plus, so we’re actually going out to bid on those here in the coming month,” Driscoll told Alabama Daily News. “The two cranes have about a 25-year life span, they’re at 51 and 52 years each.”

When asked if lawmakers could provide any additional support to the Port of Mobile and its operations, Driscoll said there would always be infrastructure needs, and costly ones at that.

“We always need additional investments in the infrastructure of the port, this port dates back to the 1920s, so there’s a lot of old infrastructure that we’re slowly taking off,” he said.

“The $1 billion we’re investing over the next ten years is impacting some of that, but there’s a lot more that needs to be done. So that’s something (state lawmakers) could help us with in the years to come if the funding is there.”

Rep. Chip Brown, R-Hollingers Island, chairs the House committee on ports. He told Alabama Daily News he intends to file a bill in the coming days to specifically address the authority’s continued need for infrastructure repair and maintenance. That bill, he said, would provide state grants for to address maintenance and development needs specifically for the state’s inland ports.

“Across our waterways on our rivers, we have numerous inland ports, many of (which) haven’t been upgraded in years, some of them still have cranes that were built in the 1930s, 1940s, and you can’t get parts for them,” Brown told ADN.

“I’ve visited many of these port facilities, and some of them are in really bad shape, and so we need to provide those ports the economic opportunity to upgrade their facilities so that they can in turn feed those goods down to the Port of Mobile, and vice versa. It’s just good for the state, it makes good business economic sense (and) creates jobs.”

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