Southport reacts to struggling port project - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Southport reacts to struggling port project

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Reported by Casey Roman – bio |email

SOUTHPORT (WECT) - Southport's proposed $2 to 3 billion port in Brunswick County has two strikes against it. On Tuesday, Congressman Mike McIntyre retracted his support. A day earlier, state lawmakers announced they will not include funding for the port's feasibility study in next year's budget.

McIntyre made a statement saying the idea is too risky and costly, both economically and environmentally. He's also concerned about security and the impact of quality of life for Brunswick residents.

Without his support, half of the $10 million feasibility study is gone. The state was expected to pay the other half but has decided against the funding. The study is a necessary step toward the future development of the port.

Whether the project comes or not, it will inevitably impact Southport and its residents.

The strongest opposition has come from a locally organized group, "No Port, Southport."

"Amazing! Amazing! All of our hard work has really started to pay off," said Toby Bronstein, a member of the organization.

A less vocal group, the longshoreman living in Southport, say a failed port will lock out jobs from the area and deflate the local economy.

"We have some mad longshoreman at this time," said Henry Rose, the President of the International Longshoreman's Association of Southport. "I'm surprised and I'm mad really."

He's mad that Congressman Mike McIntrye has thrown up his own do not enter sign, and even more upset that his fellow longshoreman can't find work.

Henry said he gets a handful of union applications every day from people who have had their sights set on a job at the future port. He said those jobs will pay $40-$50,000 per year, and include both labor and administrative positions.

Henry said most of the hopeful applicants are right out of high school or college.

"They will lose everything if this port doesn't get here and give them some work," said Henry.

"It's about the economics that don't make sense," countered Toby Bronstein. "The feds have shut off the tap, the state has shut off the tap. It's time to move on."

Bronstein says port job creation is wishful thinking. She called the figures reported by port officials, "a PR blitz" and said they've been highly exaggerated. She also believes that the longshoreman will continue to be able to find work at the Wilmington port.

The North Carolina Ports Authority would not comment on camera, however; they did issue a written statement.  

"The Authority shares many of the concerns and questions surrounding the proposed terminal project. The only way to move forward and address these issues is through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's Feasibility Study process.

The Authority continues to believe in the opportunities and potential this project could provide the residents of North Carolina. We remain hopeful that we can explore opportunities to further address these concerns in the future."

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