Industrial parks’ future topic of meeting

Published 9:09 am Wednesday, February 15, 2012

by Herb DeGroft

On Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the Smithfield Center on North Church Street in Smithfield, the Isle of Wight Citizens Association is sponsoring a town hall meeting.

Jerry Bridges, executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, will present a program on the “Virginia Port’s Economic Impact in Hampton Roads and Its Effect on Development and Growth of the Isle of Wight Intermodal Park.”

The development of the Intermodal Park adjacent to Route 460 near Windsor has been a prime feature in Isle of Wight County’s industrial and business expansion plan for several years. It will positively affect the revenue stream to the county and provide jobs when it comes to fruition.

Bridges has been executive director of the Virginia Port Authority since November 2006. He is responsible for Virginia’s marine terminal facilities in greater Hampton Roads, the Port of Richmond and Virginia Inland Terminal in Warren County.

His broad programmatic responsibilities in conjunction with the foregoing are marketing, finance and continued development of VPA terminal facilities to meet future requirements. His in-depth knowledge and management skills are integral to the successful operation of VPA’s widespread operations, and the significant contribution they make to the economic well-being of our region, state and for a large segment of the nation east of the Mississippi River.

The presentation by Bridges will provide citizens insight into the present and future of port terminal operations. Specifically, there are preparations under way to meet the arrival of “super” cargo-container ships in 2014-2015, upon completion of the widening of the Panama Canal.

Hampton Roads terminal readiness for this major event is critical to the region’s economic vitality in view of the competition anticipated from other east coast ports, such as Charleston, Baltimore and Philadelphia.

Of significant interest to Isle of Wight County’s citizens is the impact the increased trans-shipment of cargo containers will have on the development and growth of the Intermodal Park adjacent to Route 460 near Windsor.

This concept has been a prime feature of the county economic development effort for years. It has taken on even greater significance due to the loss of revenue to the county from International Paper’s closing and Smithfield Foods downsizing from two to one plant in Smithfield.

Upon completion of Bridges’ presentation, citizens will have the opportunity to ask questions.

For any additional information call 357-6210.

HERB DEGROFT is an Isle of Wight County School Board member and can be reached at