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New chief looking to grow state ports

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The North Carolina Ports Authority has a new executive director.

On his second day on the job, Paul Cozza, who comes to the Port City from the Boston area, says he is excited to get started.

The state ports are among North Carolina's major life lines. With cargo ships and trucks constantly coming in and out of the Cape Fear, the State Port of Wilmington is a main economic engine.

"We are a facilitator of being able to see trade," Cozza said. "We are a facilitator of being able to see commerce."

Cozza says he would like to see that expand in the future. To do that, he says the authority can utilize infrastructure.

"There's a lot of things we can take advantage of," he said.

Like roads, pieces of the port and rail.

"That's what we want to do: try to spend time on the places we have the opportunity," Cozza said.

And to make sure the state ports take advantage of serving the economic interests for North Carolina, the board of directors created a committee to take a look at its relationship with the state. This idea was suggested by the Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata, who oversees activity.

"We ought to look and see if we are doing as well as we can possibly do it," Tata said.

That committee will look at how other states' ports relate to their state government.

"It's significant that the secretary would essentially form a committee or make a recommendation to form a committee to take him out of being in charge of everything," NC Ports Authority Board Chair Michael Lee said.

Tata says the governor will release a 25-year infrastructure plan this summer. He says the report will include a special objective for the ports and stabilizing the coast.

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