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June 4, 08

NEWS / Governor Riley Works to Attract Business for Port

SANTIAGO - Governor Bob Riley is in Chile working to attract business for the Port of Mobile’s new container terminal, which is set to begin operations in September.

As part of his economic development mission to South America, Governor Riley met with Fernando Valenzuela, senior vice president for terminals and logistics for CSAV, the leading global cargo carrier in South America. CSAV did $4.1 billion in sales in 2007 and ranks as the 17th largest carrier worldwide.

CSAV owns 109 container vessels and over 270,000 containers. During the company’s presentation to Governor Riley, Valenzuela projected that container activity at U.S. gulf coast ports will increase from 2.3 million to 3.6 million containers a year by 2020, above average growth compared to U.S. ports nationally.

After the company executives made a presentation to the Alabama delegation about the company’s growth forecasts and needs, Governor Riley personally delivered the pitch for the company to make the Mobile container terminal the new destination for CSAV shipments, saying the Port of Mobile is an ideal entryway to the Midwest and markets up and down I-65 from Mobile to Canada. Governor Riley pointed to Alabama’s tremendous growth in the automotive, steel and aerospace industries as examples of new opportunities in the South and Midwest.

“Our port is a great economic resource that opens up tremendous opportunities when it comes to commerce with South America,” said Governor Riley. “One of the reasons we’re here is to promote that advantage.”

Mobile’s terminal will have an advantage because of its proximity to open water. A ship coming into Mobile’s new terminal will be able dock and unload before most ships going into New Orleans can even navigate to the terminal up the Mississippi River.

Governor Riley also met with business leaders of the American Chamber of Commerce in Chile. They discussed prospects of expanding trade and investment in both countries. But education and workforce development dominated the discussions. In the past 30 years, Chile, one of the most modernized economies in South America, has seen its poverty rate drop from 40 percent to 14 percent, and its unemployment rate decline from 30 percent to seven percent.

The Chamber of Commerce members expressed their belief that educational reform in Chile is the limiting factor to continued growth and success, a theme that Governor Riley has often sounded when talking about continued economic development in Alabama. The Governor shared with the members the successes of the Alabama Reading Initiative and suggested it as a model that American business leaders should encourage the Chilean government to adopt. Governor Riley also championed ACCESS, since distance learning could be very useful in a country like Chile that extends almost 3,000 miles from north to south. The shared interest in education reform generated discussion of a possible education exchange between Chile and Alabama. Governor Riley suggested using ACCESS to link a classroom of Chilean children with a Spanish class being taught in an Alabama high school.



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