Officials with the Georgetown Port Dredging Task Force said they will be looking for other sources of funding, including individuals and businesses, to get money to dredge the port.

That’s because federal funds for dredging the Port of Georgetown have all-but-disappeared in recent years.

During a Monday meeting of the Task Force, officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the S.C. Ports Authority discussed whether money for dredging could come from the state, or local businesses or people who might have the funds to contribute to dredging.

“We can receive funds from a local sponsor, and we would do what we would normally do, with your money,” said Lisa Metheny, senior projects manager for the Corps of Engineers. “We would have to get approval from secretary of the army. There is a process that we can do that. We do have that avenue available.”

Metheny said the Corps of Engineers cannot advertise for a contract for dredging without first having the money in place.

She can, however, get approval to receive the private funds while members of the Task Force are looking for sources of money.

That approval could take three to four months, she said.

Task Force Chairman Tim Tilley urged each member to look for sources of funding, whether the money came from private or local sources.

“We want to go for a shotgun approach,” he said. “We don’t want to stick with one scenario. We have to be prepared for multiple scenarios and look at alternatives that are feasible.”

“Everybody wants to be part of the team,” said Sen. Yancey McGill, (D-Kingstree.) “I really believe we are hearing what we need to hear.”

Officials from the S.C. State Ports Authority said they will be “pushing Georgetown extremely hard,” at a breakbulk conference being held next week.

The Ports Authority has hired new marketing employees to look for new business for the Port of Georgetown.

Barbara Melvin, legislative liaison for the S.C. Ports Authority and Brad Stroble, who works in sales, attended Monday’s meeting.

“There is a local perception that the S.C. Ports authority seems to lend its marketing efforts more towards Charleston than Georgetown, but that is not the case,” Stroble said. “We’re trying to grow the existing accounts here in Georgetown.

Stroble said it is a “double yes,” when asked if there is business seeking to use the Port of Georgetown.

 “There is a natural flow of certain cargo,” he said. “Once the gates are open, much of the cargo that was here before will be back. Right now, your aggregates are moving. There is no reason they can’t move through Georgetown.”

By Kelly Marshall Fuller