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Area ports sign agreement, hope to improve regional economy

By ALLISON MILES
May 10, 2010 at 12:10 a.m.

Charles Hausmann

WHAT THEY SAID:

"The Port of Palacios is the city's largest employer, which makes it particularly important to diverse the port."

-Debbie Morris, port director for the Port of Palacios

"The agreement allows the ports to work together to help the tri-county area prosper. We see nothing but prosperity in the future."

-Randy Boyd, board chairman for the Calhoun Port Authority

"Working together gives us the chance to bring more jobs to the area."

-Jack Campbell Jr., chairman of the West Side Calhoun County Navigation District

"This is the first step to making something happen. This is what the area needs and this is what drives the economy."

-Robert Loeb, chairman of the Port of Victoria

PORT LAVACA - Teamwork is the name of the game for area ports.

The Victoria County Navigation District, Calhoun Port Authority, West Side Calhoun Calhoun County Navigation District and Matagorda County Navigation District on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding, agreeing to work together to improve business and the region's economy.

Economic development professionals suggest industries that eye the area want communities to work together, said Robert Loeb, chairman of the Port of Victoria. The memorandum puts on paper the promise of teamwork.

"Each of us have assets," he said. "We have different assets, and we all want to work together to be successful."

Both the West Side Calhoun County Navigation District and the Port of Victoria boast land and shallow channels, while the Calhoun Port Authority offers deep water, said Charles Hausmann, director for the Port of Port Lavaca-Point Comfort. With the entities working together, they can attract a wider variety of businesses, he said.

"It will help create business revenue for each of the ports involved," he said.

No one port benefits more than the others, Tony Rigdon, director of the Port of Victoria, said after the presentation. The partnership means that, if an industry looks to set up shop but the local port can't meet its needs, one of the others might.

"We're neighbors," he said. "We're so close together what's good for one is good for all of us."

It doesn't stop there.

Matagorda County's jobless rate is about 10 percent, said Debbie Morris, port director for the Matagorda County Navigation District. The Port of Palacios is the city's largest employer and the partnership plan likely means good things, she said.

The port is looking to diversify its cargo, barge traffic and other aspects in the future to encourage growth, Morris added.

It's widely understood no one community can bring a significant project to fruition, said Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corporation. Resources must be shared, he said, adding the ports' partnership will help to attract new industry.

Arlene Marshall, president of the Calhoun County Economic Development Corporation, agreed.

This is just one step closer to further growth and bringing the entities' strengths together will help, she said.

"It takes all of us," Marshall said.

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