Wickliffe and Columbus, Kentucky, are among cities from ten states partnering to build a Mississippi River legislative platform. The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative includes mayors from 41 communities.
Initiative Director Colin Wellenkamp says the partner communities range in size from metropolitan to fewer than 500 residents. But Wellenkamp says all river city mayors face the same challenges.
“Both mayors have to figure out ways to handle flood mitigation, both mayors have to figure out how to increase the economic development power of their riverfront, both mayors need to figure out how to keep their drinking water and clean water systems up to date and working for their constituents," he said.
A major concern for river cities is the Panama Canal expansion. It’s set for completion in 2014, and it will bring super tankers to the port at New Orleans.
“What does that mean for the ports up the river from that city? Do they have an opportunity to be involved in that increased activity? What do mayors need to do to increase the capacity of their ports to make them more competitive, make them more marketable?” Wellenkamp said.
Wellenkamp says the initiative continues to bring more communities on board. The goal is to have 50 join by December. The mayors plan to talk to industries and governmental organizations to help develop a Mississippi River platform, and present it to the U. S. Congress in March.