Headline: Alliance says lots of interest in properties at the port

Byline: By Ray King of The Commercial Staff

Nearly a half-dozen business or manufacturing concerns expressed interest in properties at the Port of Pine Bluff in November, according to Allison Thompson, President and CEO of the Economic Development Alliance for Jefferson County.

At a meeting of the Port Authority Board on Tuesday, Thompson passed out a prospect list which showed that at least two of the contacts were interested in the former Southwind Milling property, which is now owned by the Arkansas Economic Development Corp.

The prospect list said several requests for information came as a result of the Alliance’s digital marketing campaign, and at least one more following a tour by site-consultants who went to Little Rock for a M.L.R.A. (Metropolitan Little Rock Alliance) of which Jefferson County is a member.

Regarding activity at the Port. Chad Lester, the terminal manager for Watco Terminal and Port Services, the company that manages activity at the port said through November, more than 146,000 tons of products have moved through the port and he expected that figure to increase more than 154,000 tons by the end of the year. That would be 36,000 tons more than all of 2018 which saw 117,871 tons of commodities.

Looking at specific products, Lester said wire rod coils, which are shipped by barge and used by a local manufacturing plant, totaled more than 64,000 tons through the end of November and he projected that figure will increase to about 66,000 tons by the end of the year. That figure would be 8,000 tons more than last year.

Rail shipment of barley/peas/beans which are used by a customer in Dumas totaled just over 38,000 tons. He said he expected that figure to rise to at least 41,000 tons by the end of the year, if not more. Last year, 41,200 tons of the product was received.

The newest member of the Port Authority Board, Duncan Bellingrath was also introduced when the meeting began.

Also Tuesday, the board agreed to a five-year extension of the Management Services agreement with the Alliance with no dissent.