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New committee to look at expanding state’s shipping facilities

A newly formed standing House committee will focus on expanding Alabama’s shipping capabilities, not just at the Port of Mobile, but across the state. Part of that could mean incentivizing Alabama goods producers who ship their products to do so from Alabama facilities. 

“If you look at the resources we have in Alabama, with our deepwater port in Mobile and then having so many rivers, the Alabama River, the (Tennessee River and Tombigbee River) waterway … we’ve got good rail and good roads and so we really have an opportunity to do something really big and really special,” said Rep. Chip Brown, R-Hollingers Island. Starting next session, Brown will chair the newly created House Ports, Waterways, and Intermodal Transit Committee.

In a press release last week, future Alabama Speaker of the House Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, said the new committee is needed because the expansion of the State Docks in Mobile, along with the Tennessee/Tombigbee Waterway, the ports of Huntsville and Birmingham, and the port being constructed in Montgomery, could make the hub an even larger economic asset to the state.

Brown said the Port of Mobile has the potential to “leapfrog” other Southeastern ports’ capability.

The Port of Mobile has an annual economic impact of $85 billion and employees thousands of people. But state leaders say there is the potential for more growth there.

Brown said he and other lawmakers would like to see Alabama goods, including automobiles, shipped out of Mobile, not Charleston or Savannah.

“It has to make financial sense for the auto manufacturers to (use our port),” Brown said.

“Part of what we’ll be looking at is an incentives package for our manufacturers so it makes more financial sense to ship through Alabama,” Brown said.

Other legislative leaders have recently made similar statements.

“I’m definitely interested in seeing how we can assist our port to help it grow,” Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, told Alabama Daily News.

Early this year, the Alabama Port Authority approved a land deal to construct an inland container intermodal transfer facility on 272 acres in Montgomery County, extending intermodal rail service from the Port of Mobile.

“We need to look at doing that in a few other parts of the state,” Brown said.

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