Helena Harbor and Phillips County Economic Development officials said Thursday that the harbor has been named a "designated project" on the U.S. Marine Highway System by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
John Edwards, the harbor's general counsel and economic development director, called the designation a "significant milestone" for the slack water harbor and 4,000-acre industrial park "that will lead to expanded use of navigation on the Mississippi River."
The harbor is near Helena-West Helena and about a hour south of Memphis.
Harbor officials applied for the designation in July and had developed a project to have container-on-barge service available for Envirotech and other companies. Envirotech, a producer of biodegradable disinfectants for the food and water services, has a production facility at the harbor.
Another company, containerized marine cargo carrier Seacor Holdings Inc., has agreed to provide transportation services for harbor tenants, officials said.
The "project designation" makes Helena Harbor eligible for an annual grant funding program that supports the development and expansion of waterborne transportation services. This year's Marine Highway program will award $10.8 million for such projects.
Edwards said the designation "will allow Helena Harbor to apply for funding to purchase needed equipment, as well as pay for things like the engineering needed to make our port a more efficient and attractive place to create good paying jobs."
In September, the harbor announced it received a $528,922 Delta Regional Authority grant to resurface a major road and to continue improving the eight miles of rail it owns.