Ivey To Lead Tenn-Tom Authority In 2021

The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority has named Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey as the group’s chair for 2021. Ivey, who became governor in 2017 after former Gov. Robert Bentley resigned, is in the midst of her first full term as the state’s top elected official. She won a full term as governor by a wide margin in 2018.

Ivey’s time in office has been marked by waterway development and infrastructure investment. Most notably, Ivey led the effort to develop and pass the Rebuild Alabama Act. The centerpiece of that legislation was a 10-cent increase in the state’s fuel tax, which had not been adjusted since the early 1990s. A portion of the tax increase was dedicated to the channel expansion project within Mobile Harbor. Ivey signed the legislation into law on March 12, 2019. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers launched the deepening and widening project in 2020.

Ivey has also been a proponent of new and existing business along the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, including Pinnacle Renewable Energy, a wood pellet facility planned for Demopolis, Ala., and an Enviva wood pellet facility planned for Epes, Ala.

“I look forward to serving the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority as chair for 2021,” Ivey said in a statement. “The Tenn-Tom Waterway is a vital link in our nation’s transportation infrastructure and is a great asset to Alabama and the Southeast. There are wonderful possibilities for increasing its economic and trade potential, in addition to furthering industrial and recreational opportunities.

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“I am excited about assisting our forward progress on all these fronts,” Ivey continued, “while also keeping the authority’s stated mission at the forefront of all we do.”

Martha Stokes of Carrolton, Ala., will serve as vice-chair of the authority in 2021, while Bud Phillips of Columbus, Miss., will continue as treasurer. Phillips, who was appointed to the authority in 1988, is the group’s longest-serving member. He’s served on the board since 2003.

“Gov. Ivey has a deep understanding of the advantages and benefits of the Tenn-Tom Waterway and the inland waterway system,” said Mitch Mays, administrator of the authority. “Last year alone, Gov. Ivey’s efforts led to almost $300 million in capital investment by companies that will use the Tenn-Tom Waterway to ship their products overseas and create hundreds of new jobs. Gov. Ivey’s leadership will foster the continued growth and use of the Tenn-Tom Waterway, as well as maintaining vital relationships with elected federal officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.” The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority is a four-state group that includes Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky. The waterway connects to the Tennessee River in Pickwick Lake, near the border between Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, and runs through Mississippi and Alabama to where the Tombigbee and Black Warrior rivers come together in Demopolis.

The chairmanship of the authority rotates between the governors of the four states. Gov. Bill Lee of Tennessee was chair in 2020. Members of the authority include the governors of each state, along with five appointees from each state.