A Brunswick County businessman has been named chairman of the N.C. State Ports Authority Board of Directors by Gov. Pat McCrory, according to a Thursday news release from the governor’s office.
The new chairman is Tom Adams, president and CEO of Adams Building and Consulting Co. LLC of Ocean Isle Beach. He replaces Michael Lee, who was elected to the state Senate in November.
“North Carolina ports are a significant economic engine for our state, directly and indirectly supporting more than 76,000 jobs statewide,” N.C. Department of Transportation secretary Tony Tata said in the release. “Tom understands the important role of our ports in recruiting business and industry to North Carolina. He is a strong leader and will be a valuable asset to the ports.”
“We certainly have tremendous opportunities at this point,” Adams said in an interview Thursday morning, referring to the state ports’ near-term future. “We have a new CEO, Paul Cozza ... who is doing an excellent job of putting together a very strategic plan. Our Morehead City port we’re very excited about as they increase their imports and exports.
“We have a tremendous opportunity ahead of us [at the Port of Wilmington] with the building of the wood pellet facility and the cold storage facility, which will help improve our exports. Ports in North Carolina have a $14 billion economic impact.”
Vertex Rail Technologies’ planned manufacturing facility in Wilmington is also good news for the Port of Wilmington, Adams said. “We anticipate we will import parts on their behalf," he said.
One significant challenge for the state’s ports is the expansion of the Panama Canal, enabling it to accommodate much larger ships, called post-Panamax vessels, Adams explained, explaining that ports not accessible to these ships will not be in a competitive position.
“Post-Panamax ships won’t be able to come up the river [to the Port of Wilmington] without us dredging a deeper channel,” Adams said.
Access for the new, larger ships is a problem only for the Port of Wilmington and not Morehead's facility, port officials explained, because post-Panamax vessels are container vessels and only Wilmington handles container shipping.
Adams, whose term as chairman will extend to January 2016, has been a member of the board since being appointed in January by Thom Tillis, then-speaker of the state House. Adams serves on the Brunswick County Economic Development Commission board, the South Brunswick Islands Small Business Alliance, the South Brunswick Islands Rotary Club and the Cape Fear Council Boy Scouts of America Executive Board, the release stated.