Port Authority Board agrees to look at terminal improvements

The chairman of the Pine Bluff-Jefferson County Port Authority, David Bush, agreed Wednesday to appoint a committee to look at making improvements to the terminal buildings at the Port of Pine Bluff.

Terminal Manager Mike Murphy made the request at the board’s meeting, saying that “there are real issues that have got to be addressed,” with regard to infrastructure needs at the facility.

Murphy, who works for Kinder Morgan, said the committee would look at available funding sources, and he would “discuss with my supervisors what they’re willing to do.”

Kinder Morgan operates the terminal for the port authority.

In his tonnage report, Murphy said total tonnage for 2012 was 67,638.91 tons, a decrease from 2011, when the terminal handled 68,925.61 tons.

After not handling aluminum T-bars for several years, the terminal handled nearly 13,000 tons of bars last year, as well as more than 26,000 tons of steel wire rod coils.

Fertilizer shipments were down significantly from the previous year.

In her report, Lou Ann Nisbett, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County and executive director of the Port Authority, said she has been meeting with representatives of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Southeast Arkansas College on job skills development programs, which are an important consideration for potential employers when they look at a location.

“They have to have a good, skilled labor force in place,” she said.

Nisbett reported that there were 53 inquiries from businesses and companies looking at Pine Bluff as a potential location for their business, 23 of those from manufacturing firms and 10 others from retail, commercial and restaurants.

On another subject, Nisbett said the Alliance is partnering with VIP2, a company founded by Jon Harrison, former executive at Caterpillar Inc., in launching a premier leadership program for businesses and organizations in the state.

Nisbett said Jefferson County was selected as the site for the pilot class of the program, and said she 25 to 35 individuals have already expressed interest in the program.