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Officials tour Tombigbee River in Demopolis

The economic opportunity that flows with the Tombigbee Waterway in Demopolis was the focus for a two-day gathering that included a tour along the river.

Hosted by the Marengo County Economic Development Authority, guests from area economic and industry boards were on hand, along with officials from the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority. Sponsors of the “familiarization tour” included the TTWDA and MCEDA as well as the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce, the Demopolis Yacht Basin, and Warrior Energy.

The TTWDA involves a four-state pact that includes Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky. The familiarization tour marked the first of its kind in Alabama.

“We work with the states to promote the waterway and serve as an advocate for the river,” said TTWDA Administrator Mitch Mays. “Demopolis has some good industrial sites (along the river) and we want to work with local economic development organizations to help highlight those properties and put the pieces together that will help bring about success.”

The familiarization tour began with a meet-and-greet dinner at the Demopolis Civic Center Thursday evening. On Friday morning, the group joined at the Demopolis Yacht Basin where the Corps of Engineers provided a three-hour barge tour of the river.

“This is an opportunity for us to highlight those industries that exist along the river and the contributions that the waterway provides in terms of economic development,” said MCEDA Executive Director Chris Bontreger.

“The river is a great economic engine for our area and the entire state,” said Phillis Belcher of the Greene County Industrial Development Authority.

Demopolis Mayor John Laney welcomed the guests, touting the river’s potential.

“From Demopolis you can go anywhere in the world by boat and that makes our community very special and gives us a lot of unique economic opportunities,” Laney said.

(This article originally appeared in the Saturday, May 27, print edition of the Demopolis Times.)