Officials postpone port trip to Netherlands

Published 12:15am Saturday, September 21, 2013

NATCHEZ A trip to the Netherlands by state and local officials to visit Europe’s largest port has been postponed indefinitely.

Concordia Parish Economic Development Director Heather Malone said that officials have taken “a couple of steps back to have more conversations with all parties involved.”

The Miss-Lou Regionalism Steering Committee first floated the idea of visiting the Port of Rotterdam — Europe’s largest port — earlier this year in hopes of replicating the success along the Mississippi River. The trip was originally scheduled for this month.

Malone said perhaps it is too soon to take the trip.

“I guess … (the committee) may have jumped the gun and assumed that both ports would understand and be on board, but we kind of got the cart before the horse,” she said.

Natchez and Vidalia port commissions, Malone said, need to do more research on how a joint port authority might work in the area before taking the trip to Rotterdam.

Natchez Port Director Anthony Hauer said he is not making any plans to go to Rotterdam.

Hauer said he feels the Natchez Port Authority needs more of the “particulars” associated with Vidalia Port.

The Vidalia Port currently consists of an access road that extends to the Mississippi River Levee. Phase 2A includes constructing an additional levee, extending the access road and adding a cargo ramp.

Vidalia secured $10 million in capital outlay funding in this year’s Louisiana Legislative session to continue construction on the port.

Hauer agrees that the “horse has to go before the cart” when it comes to the Rotterdam trip. He said, though, he is certain some type of joint agreement would eventually exist between the two port commissions.

“I’m sure the commissions will come together, and there will be some type of formal agreement on paper before any operations start,” he said.

Vidalia Port Director Wyly Gilfoil said early discussions have focused on cooperation between the two port commissions, perhaps having leaders of each port meet regularly.

“I think we just want to get to a point where we cooperate and grow the region,” he said.