While the majority of the population knows ports in North Carolina exist, most are unaware of the impact they have on both the state and the county.
Bethany Welch, communications director for the North Carolina Port Authority, recently spoke to members of the Clinton 100 Committee about the ports in Wilmington and Morehead City and the economic impact each has on the region.
“There are many people who know the ports exist, but don’t know the impact it has on them locally,” Welch said.
North Carolina’s ports have attributed to more than 76,000 jobs across the state, brought in more than $700 million in revenue and $14 billion in goods. As the largest of the state’s ports, the Wilmington location has approximately 525 ships calling on its services each year.
“As we grow, it will only help the North Carolina economy,” Welch explained.
Wood pellets are the largest exported good through the Wilmington port, with one million metric tons of the pellet cargo per year. This, Welch explained, largely benefits one Sampson County company —Enviva — by assuring products are shipped efficiently.
“The Wilmington port connects the North Carolina community to international trade,” Welch said.
The port that is located in Morehead City is known for specialized cargo and not utilized as a container port.
According to Welch, in an effort to maximize the economic benefits of the Wilmington port, and ultimately getting goods shipped out faster, additional cranes are being added as well as the expansion of the turning basin.
“We have some of the lowest turn times on the east coast,” Welch said. “Time is money and we want to move vessels in an out as quickly as possible.”
At the Wilmington port, the average turn time for single vessels is 18 minutes and the average turn time for dual vessels is 32 minutes. Transatlantic service is available to Latin America and Asia.
“The expansion of our turning basin has accommodated for larger vessels,” Welch added. “Our ability to handle larger vessels makes us a more marketable port.”
Welch joined the NC Port Authority in August 2017 as the communications manager of external affairs.
As the communications manager, she actively participates in the development and execution of the strategic integrated communications plan for the Ports Authority. She maintains local and statewide media relations, online and social media communications, local and statewide stakeholders and advocacy programs, as well as promoting the NC Ports brand.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.