NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -– In tough economic times, Congressman Mike McIntyre says it's a "T" word that has kept us afloat. That "T" word is tourism.
The Representative from the 7th District says our beaches are a big draw to people across the nation, and with tourist season right around the corner, the Army Corps of Engineers is working to sustain our beaches.
Representative McIntyre toured the area today to see the progress of the beach renourishment projects in Carolina and Kure Beaches. Projects for which he helped secure federal funding.
"There is no doubt that our fragile coastline is an environmental treasure to protect. It's also an economic engine that we want to keep strong,” said McIntyre.
To keep that engine strong, $9.3 million of federal funding is going to help sustain Carolina and Kure Beaches, while $17 million is going to the Wilmington Port. McIntyre says those dollars are money well spent.
"For every one dollar of federal money spent on beach renourishment, we get 320 dollars in revenue generated,” said McIntyre.
With tourism as one of the strongest industries in North Carolina, McIntyre says beaches are a huge draw to people all over the country, which is why it's so important to protect the coastline.
McIntyre said, "You can count up the license tags from 35 different states as we move into Spring and Summer. Clearly these beaches are a regional and national significance."
He plans on marketing the area to Congress as having regional and national importance, in a time of budget battles. The Congressman says it is so important to make sure the Army Corp of Engineers gets the funding they need to preserve the coast not only for economic reasons but public safety and storm damage reduction programs.
"This shoreline protection program and storm damage reduction program is what beach nourishment ties into and we've seen the success of that."
Representative McIntyre says Congress is working on a 15 year extension for renourishment projects and that we will fight for every pebble and every dollar possible.