Members of the bi-state board leading the development of a deepwater port in Jasper County today unanimously elected William L. Bethea Jr. of Hilton Head, South Carolina, to chair the Jasper Ocean Terminal Joint Project Office (JPO).
The chairman serves a one-year term and alternates between the two states. James S. Balloun of Georgia served as JPO chairman in 2008 and was elected vice chairman at the meeting.
Mr. Bethea, a long-time supporter of the Jasper project and resident of Beaufort County, brings extensive port and economic development experience to the JPO Board. He also served for 12 years on the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) Board, four years as chairman, and has served on the South Carolina Coordinating Council for Economic Development.
“This project is vitally important to the economic future of our region and the state of South Carolina,” said Mr. Bethea. “While there’s much work ahead, I’m encouraged by the strides made over the past year, including jointly purchasing the site and hiring a project management firm to keep the development moving ahead.”
“In addition to building on the momentum already established, over the next year I hope to enhance communications with this project’s many stakeholders locally and across both states,” said Mr. Bethea.
In July, the Georgia Ports Authority and the SCSPA completed the joint acquisition of 1,518 acres of land from the Georgia Department of Transportation for the development of the Jasper Ocean Terminal on the Savannah River in Jasper County. In October, the JPO hired Moffatt & Nichol to provide program management services, including preliminary terminal planning, economic analyses, market studies, and dredged material management and conceptual infrastructure planning.
“I’ve been honored to serve as chairman of the project office over the past year,” said Mr. Balloun. “We’ve made significant progress and will continue to work collaboratively to ultimately create jobs and foster new economic opportunities for the region.”
In January 2008, the SCSPA and the GPA signed an Intergovernmental Agreement for Development of a Jasper port to contract for, jointly own, manage and plan for the development of the Jasper Ocean Terminal.
Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford announced in March 2007 a proposal for a port in Jasper County that would be developed, owned and operated jointly by the two states. Their original term sheet established the JPO.
Next steps for the Jasper Ocean Terminal project include conducting studies required to release the Corps easement, initiating the NEPA permitting process, continuing economic analyses and market studies and planning road and rail infrastructure to the site.