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5 Questions with Geno Marconi, Port of New Hampshire

Portsmouth, home to a deep water port, has centuries-long experience in dealing with ships and commerce, making it one of the oldest working ports in the country. The Port of New Hampshire is tremendous asset for many industries, including Granite State companies sending their products to markets around the world.

Today, we’re meeting Geno Marconi, director of the New Hampshire Division of Ports and Harbors.

Geno Marconi ~ NH Division of Ports and Harbors

1. The Port of New Hampshire is the Granite State’s ‘Gateway to the World.’ How much cargo flows through the port annually?

The port as a whole handles about four million tons of cargo annually. This includes the seven terminals on the river that have 16 businesses utilizing them. According to The Economic Impact of the Piscataqua River and the Ports of Portsmouth and Newington study, 987 jobs paying $90.2 million in wages and benefits were directly employed by those 16 businesses (not including Portsmouth Naval Shipyard – ed.). Regionally, port-related activities include 2,357 jobs (2,078 in NH and 280 in Maine) paying $156 million in income, with $274.5 million in value added. In addition, $25 million in state and local taxes are generated as a result of these activities.

2. Part of the mission of the Division of Ports and Harbors is to stimulate the economy and create jobs. How does it do that on a day-to-day basis?

The Port Authority is involved in several different aspects:

  • We operate the state-owned Market Street Marine Terminal, the state’s only public access general cargo terminal, and we provide the opportunity to businesses that want to move merchandise in and out of the area. The terminal also supports activities at all the other terminals, including the Port’s Naval Shipyard. Materials and equipment for those other facilities are often transloaded from here;
  • We operate the commercial fish piers in Portsmouth, Rye and Hampton, providing a platform to the fishing industry. Additionally there are charter fishing, whale watch, and tour vessels that operate from our facilities in Portsmouth, Rye and Hampton;
  • We oversee the dredging of the harbors and channels in order to keep commerce moving. We are now partnered with the Army Corps of Engineers in a $23 million project to expand the uppermost turning basin of the Piscataqua River.

3. What are the advantages of using the Port of New Hampshire for freight shipments?

It all depends on the cargo and tee destination. Each cargo opportunity receives personalized attention depending on the needs. For example: An oversized piece of equipment that may be on a ship bound for NY with a final destination in Bedford, NH, would have great difficulty getting over-the-road permits through some states. Many times we have put these types of cargo onto a barge and brought them here at the state pier.

4. NH also has five Foreign Trade Zone sites and two subzones, and the DPH serves as the FTZ grantee. How do these FTZs benefit the New Hampshire economy?

Simple answer: The companies would go someplace else if we didn’t have them. (An FTZ offers tariff and tax relief to New Hampshire exporters, which lowers their costs and increases employment, capital investment and revenue opportunities. FTZs are supervised by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a division of Homeland Security. -ed.).

5. Is there anything new or exciting happening with the port and its operations, or projects happening in the coming months?

The exciting projects are the Sarah Long Bridge (to straighten the navigation channel, which will allow larger ships to access the port; and to increase the vertical clearance, allowing taller ships to pass and reduce bridge openings) and the Turning Basin, also to allow larger ships to access the port, both long overdue navigation safety and improvement projects. Once these are done, we are looking at attracting new cargo here at the Port Terminal.

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