No Port Southport seeks port alternatives

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

SOUTHPORT—No Port Southport, a nonprofit agency formed to stop the N.C. Ports Authority’s plan to build an international container terminal on 600 acres near Southport, wants to know a better way to use that land.

The group has announced a contest to begin April 1 and run through June 15, asking everyone from high schoolers and professionals to retirees what they would do with the acreage instead of building the international terminal.

The winning idea, which must create jobs and generate revenue while also being environmentally friendly, will be presented to Gov. Bev Perdue.

The terminal is expected to be built on 600 acres on the Cape Fear River near Southport at a cost of $1 billion or more. Construction is projected to begin in 2014, with the port open for business in 2017, according to the ports authority.

The ports authority’s hired consulting firm estimated the terminal will directly and indirectly support more than 475,000 jobs and result in $1.2 billion in state and local tax revenue.

The consultants’ economic feasibility report states between 2017, when the terminal is expected to open, and 2030, when it is expected to reach its design capacity, it will receive six times the market share of the Port of Wilmington.

No Port Southport disputes that finding.

In its own analysis, the group found state ports receive funds from the state and federal government every year and that a new terminal in Southport would have to take business away from larger, more established ports in Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia to make money.

No Port Southport also questioned the number of jobs a new terminal would create in the local area. The group found that the APM terminal in Portsmouth, Va., which is said to be similar to the planned Southport terminal, employs 44 regular employees as well as longshoremen as needed.

The group also referred to a study of communities around ports in South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia that found them to be some of the poorest in their respective states.