Paducah riverport, Murray State help keep plant running in Clarksville, Tenn., after floods

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Paducah riverport, university aid Tenn. tiremaker

PADUCAH, Ky. — The riverport in Paducah and Murray State University’s campus in the city have helped keep a Bridgestone plant going in Tennessee after this month’s floods there.

The Paducah Sun reported the Bridgestone Metalpha USA plant in Clarksville, Tenn., depends on just-in-time delivery of steel to process the metal used in making tires. Heavy rain and rising water flooded the plant’s warehouse on May 1 and two barges carrying steel to the plant were stranded on the flooding Cumberland River.

Ken Canter, who directs the Paducah-McCracken County Riverport, said he got a call for help from Mitsui USA, which supplies the steel.

“We were able to work rapidly to put together a plan to unload the coils and start shipments to Clarksville,” Canter said. He said the plant was in danger of closing without the steel.

Canter said the barges were unloaded into a warehouse owned by the university and the steel is being trucked about 100 miles southeast to the Clarksville plant, keeping about 400 employees there on the job.

“It was great that it was able to be coordinated,” said Donna Bright, plant manager at Metalpha, a steel cord plant.

The riverport sits near the confluence of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, the Ohio River and the Cumberland River.

Making the plan work depended on getting barges from the Cumberland River down the Ohio River to the port, finding a 25,000-square-foot warehouse where the steel could be unloaded and arranging for trucks and drivers to haul it down Interstate 24 to Clarksville.

The key turned out to be networking.

“I was in Leadership Paducah about 10 years ago with Brian Van Horn,” who directs Murray’s Paducah campus, Canter said. “It was through that relationship that I became friends with Brian and knew of possible warehouse space. Murray State was able to make the plan work.”

Canter said the first delivery was made Friday. Trucks will carry the steel to the plant on a regular schedule over the next couple of months.

Information from: The Paducah Sun,

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