Port can bring us together

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 28, 2009

To twist a phrase penned by William Shakespeare into an issue facing leaders here in our community: Two ports or not two ports. That is the question.

A port facility on the Mississippi side of the river has existed for years. But plans for a port in Vidalia have caused a mild bit of discontent — though nothing on the scale of any of the Bard’s famous tragedies — at least not yet. No, at the moment all sides are civil about the matter, though trouble could bubble up if we’re not careful.

The issue really comes down two questions: Do we actually need two ports in the same basic region and does the federal government need to help pay for a new one when it helped pay for the old one?

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Valid questions.

Officials with the Natchez-Adams County Port, the Adams County Board of Supervisors and the City of Natchez wrote letters of concern to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding the proposed Vidalia facility. The letters, essentially, ask those very questions.

Perhaps leaders from both sides of the river would be wise to put their heads together and consider forming a joint port authority. We have much more to gain by working together than working against one another.

Such an authority — if fully utilized — could have strong economic potential.

Such an idea needs to be explored and acted on quickly. Working together could offer great benefits, both in actual savings and in the great example it would show to prospective business partners — a community that works together.

Perhaps the deeper question that could be answered in the process is: To be one community or to be two communities.