May 14, 2015

Call to Order:  The meeting was called to order by club president Ken Robinson at 12:15 p.m.   Steve Dill offered the invocation followed by the song led by Gordon Korb.  Tom Martenstein welcomed visiting Rotarians and members’ guests.
Announcements:  Today is the club’s 101st birthday.  The city of Mobile is looking for input on the Map for Mobile framework.  A big thank you goes out to the fellowship committee for putting on last week’s boat tour.  Also, check out the new look to the club’s website which is now mobile friendly.
Program:  The day’s program was Director & CEO of the Alabama State Port Authority, James K. Lyons, who was introduced by Eddie Brister.
Mr. Lyons discussed the many projects and happenings around the Port of Mobile.  The biggest is Airbus readying for full production, along with their suppliers.  The port continues to play an important part in the economic development of Mobile.
Mr. Lyons position is no longer appointed by the governor, but by a board of directors.  There is no appropriation of money from the state of Alabama, but the port authority operates on its own revenue, which was $160 million last year.  Standard & Poor’s upgraded the port’s bond rating to A-.
The main commodities going in and out of the port are forest products, steel, frozen poultry, and aluminum.  However, a strong US dollar is hurting exports.  There is a new steel warehouse that freed up 300,000 square feet of warehouse space.  The bulk division, which deals mostly with metallurgical coal, isn’t selling as well because of price pressures on the steel market.
The port owns its own railroad which has 75 miles of track.  The Port Authority rebuilt three locomotives with more fuel efficient engines.  In April 2016 the new RORO (roll-on/roll-off) terminal will be fully operational.  The Port Authority is looking to improve the dock and a large area at the Theodore Industrial Port off of Rangeline Road.
The Panama Canal is getting wider and deeper to better handle today’s cargo ships.  The Mobile ship channel is already larger and deeper and can handle the large ships.  There is an EIS in the process to make the shipping channel even wider and deeper than it is, but this is a multi-year process.
Access to Cuba is a ways off until Congress acts to lift the trade embargo.  Not much trade is allowed now beyond agricultural products, usually lumber and frozen poultry.  Opening up trade to Cuba would be good for Alabama.
Mr. Lyons took questions from members, and received a speaker certificate from president Robinson.
Adjournment:  President Robinson adjourned the meeting at 12:45 PM.