MARK H. BUZBY
PADUCAH AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
CAPITOL VISITOR’S CENTER; ROOM SVC-208
SEPT. 12, 2018
Thanks, Sandra. Good afternoon and welcome back to D.C. thank you for the opportunity to join you here again this year. There has been a lot going on in Paducah and I’ve enjoyed getting to know that part of the country better.
Of course, I was with Secretary Chao in Paducah just a few weeks ago, announcing a new MARAD Gateway Office and some key department investments.
I want to spend just a little time talking about Paducah’s new inland waterways gateway office.
It will provide a wide range of customer services to your maritime community. For starters, it will help promote collaboration between your federal, state, local and private partners to address some of your region’s pressing marine transportation challenges.
Our Paducah office is the second inland waterways gateway office in the nation, and one of ten nationally located on the west, east, and gulf coasts, as well as the great lakes.
It is staffed by Chad Dorsey, a Paducah “local yokel” who is your direct line to the maritime administration and the department of transportation.
For the 23 states that make up the inland waterways area of responsibility, which includes the Paducah area, Chad shares responsibility with our St. Louis Inland Waterways Gateway Director – Ms. Branden Criman. I hope you’ll get to know those two names very well.
An obvious major goal for the Paducah gateway office is to promote and facilitate maximum port and maritime stakeholder engagement in the inland waterways region.
That kind of close, interactive engagement adds value across the board – strengthening planning and collaboration between MARAD’s offices and the Inland Marine Transportation System, including all inland ports and maritime stakeholders.
This comes in many forms, perhaps best broadly described as improved assistance across a host of priority areas to inland waterways states. The ultimate goal is always to establish the Inland Marine Transportation System as an integral component of the larger Maritime Transportation System.
We accomplish this through a diverse, multi-faceted approach, but primarily by providing tools, counsel and assistance to ensure cohesion and unity of effort regionally and nationally.
We want to make sure that our efforts in Paducah are closely in sync with our efforts elsewhere.
That means the St. Louis gateway office and staff, and MARAD headquarters are all working in concert to support the development of our rivers and basins as complete integrated systems.
Additional objectives for the new Paducah office include identifying and increasing transportation funding to continue to develop our inland ports as compatible, multi-modal extensions of the nation’s landside transportation infrastructure.
Part of that job will be to make your region aware of an array of federal assistance funds and grant and loan programs – and then hone in on helping you satisfy what can be very complex eligibility requirements.
Often times an application for funding fails simply because it’s incomplete, or neglects to address certain fine details and requirements.
So that’s where we come in. Another big part of our job will be to help all applicants – including our stakeholders in Paducah – to fully understand the fine print of USDOT and MARAD funding programs. And then educate and empower them to submit quality applications.
Chad and Branden are your on-site experts and will assist you each step of the way.
As you know, the Secretary recently awarded a marine highway grant to help kickstart a new container on barge service from the port of Paducah to New Orleans and mobile.
Your involvement in the development of this new service will be the key to its success – and our new gateway will be there to assist every step of the way.
The most important part of any marine highway service is the customers it serves
– and that’s who you represent. Once the port has the equipment in place and the operator is ready to go, having the commitment of freight from the manufacturers in the region will be the key to its ultimate success.
Our new gateway will be there to help facilitate those relationships between the port, the operator, and the shippers to ensure the long-term success of the new service and the growth of river transportation in Paducah.
That involves helping your potential shippers recognize the benefits – or economies of scale, as it were – of using container on barge services. We do this through MARAD’s many training, outreach and assistance programs designed to help bring our freight and maritime industry stakeholders up to speed on Maritime’s extreme value and efficiency.
This might involve working with shippers to make sure they are within an appropriate distance to a river to consider using marine highways to move their freight.
Chad and Branden and our marine highway office here in dc will work with you to make those prospective clients fully aware of Maritime’s improved shipping options.
We are more than eager to prime that pump and energize discussions with shippers, so that they can wisely choose marine highway options for their products.
So that is just a brief primer on how we can continue to work together – and move the inland waterways Transportation System forward. Again, our mutual goal with the Paducah gateway office is to maximize the utility of Kentucky’s more than 1900 miles of designated rivers and waterways.
As you also know, Paducah is not just a hub for freight but also for inland waterway operators.
With that in mind, we recently announced the award of a $1.1m small shipyard grant to walker boat yard in Paducah for a new 80-ton crane.
Ensuring that vibrant ship repair facilities are available and competitive along our inland waterways is vitally important for reliable and sustainable growth of commerce on the inland waterways system.
And now I would like to ask you for your assistance.
One of the first things that Chad will work on with Branden is to develop a regional inland waterways engagement plan – a voyage plan, if you will, to chart our course.
In that plan, we will be looking to launch a wide variety of engagement opportunities.
Those may include, but are not limited to:
– industry-related educational events of the sort I’ve mentioned.
– also, state and local government events;
– and events and meetings with maritime related associations.
These could include inter-agency partner events or activities.
Please let Chad know if you are aware of any of these specific opportunities. Or if you have other items that you think he would like to know about, please let him know.
If my life and career have taught me anything, it’s that this nation’s maritime power is fundamental to our greatness as a nation.
And that greatness has always been grounded in innovation, education, and a highly skilled workforce.
It has also been predicated on visionary, intelligent leadership like we’re seeing coming out of Paducah and McCracken County.
We will do everything in our power to assist you.
For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation recently released a notice of funding opportunity for the FY 2018 better utilizing investment to leverage development, or “build transportation discretionary grants,” program.
Formerly, this was known as the tiger grant program, and the $1.5 billion in available funds is three (3) times the historical average. So, our portfolio of resources is growing.
As you know, the city of Paducah, in partnership with the Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority, has submitted a nearly $22 million “build” grant application for a program of projects to help expand and modernize your local maritime infrastructure and capital equipment.
We’ll be watching that application closely, and wish you good luck.
The bottom line is that this region is rich in maritime assets.
All of us at MARAD recognize that – and want you to succeed. I encourage you to collaborate with us to ensure that no opportunity is overlooked.
Chad and our supporting cast here in town at MARAD HQ are here to help you plan and strategize and take full advantage of our funding and assistance programs.
So, keep up the great work. We look forward to working with you all.
Thank you, and if we have time, I’m available to answer a few questions.