GALLIPOLIS — Gallia native, Meagan Barnes, recently found herself in Panama, promoting local maritime trade to a global audience.
Barnes joined U.S. Inland Waterways in Panama City, Panama, as one of the U.S. representatives to be present for the signing/sealing of the partnership with the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and the Inland Rivers Ports and Terminals (IRPT). Barnes presented to the Administrator of the Panama Canal Authority on the impact of the Port of South Point and the Ohio River, its impact on the region and further impact on global shipping. She was present for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the ACP and the IRTP on Dec. 13, 2016 in Panama City.
The IRPT is a nationwide trade association for users of the U.S. Inland Waterway system. The Panama Canal expansion is one of the biggest developments in maritime trade in decades and the largest project at the Canal since its original construction.
When the canal first opened in 1914, it cut 8,000 miles and several weeks of transit time off the journey between the Pacific and the Atlantic. Widening the canal will once again transform the flow of trade in North America, by creating a new lane of traffic along the Canal through the construction of a new set of locks, doubling the waterway’s capacity.
The Panama Canal could lead to more barge traffic along the Ohio River which expands business at The Point, a 500-acre industrial park in South Point.
For many, the oceans are what is in focus when an individual thinks of ports and international commerce but rivers also play a big role.
“The partnership with the Panama Canal is critical to freight movements along our inland waterways, creating a vertically aligned supply chain for logistics in our region and a solution to transportation congestion. I am honored to have represented Superior Marine Ways, Inc. and our Ohio River region at the signing,” said Barnes.
Barnes, who is the vice president of marketing and business development at Superior Marine Ways, Inc. and also serves as the Port of South Point manager, sees the potential for business growth and development. The Port of South Point is a public/private partnership providing access to the Ohio River at South Point, Ohio. The Port opened in 2014 and is part of the infrastructure at the Point Industrial Park.
As for the memorandum, it will allow IRPT and ACP to engage in joint marketing efforts, generate new shipping business and share data that may be helpful in forecasting future trade flows. Together, IRPT and ACP can create awareness of the benefits derived from the Canal expansion and optimize the existing inland transportation used to move commodities to and from the United States through the Canal.
IRPT promotes the use of the nation’s rivers as the most cost effective, and environmentally-friendly form of transportation. This is done by keeping members informed on federal legislation and security issues affecting the river system, promoting and marketing the inland waterway system, and working with port leaders to unify the inland ports, terminals, and river systems.
IRPT also promotes foreign and domestic commerce using international trade routes, such as the Panama Canal. America’s inland ports are major sources of export and import generation for the economy and serve as feeder ports to coastal ports around the nation. Members contribute to the nations GDP and secure the nation’s global competitiveness.
Barnes was elected a member of the Inland Rivers Ports and Terminals Board of Directors in May 2016, representing the Ohio River Basin. In addition, Barnes also serves as First Vice President for the Gallia County Chamber of Commerce, a Board member at the Point Pleasant River Museum and Learning Center, Alumni Council Chair at the University of Rio Grande and co-chair of The Hoop Project and The Restore Project. She holds a bachelors degree in Communications from the University of Rio Grande and a masters degree of Business Administrations from Ohio University. She resides in Gallipolis, with her son, Nicholas.
Submitted by Inland Rivers Ports and Terminals (IRPT) and Meagan Barnes. Miranda Wood of Ohio Valley Publishing contributed to processing this article.