There's very little water on which to navigate a ship in western North Carolina.
But lawmakers have appropriated 100,000 dollars for a study in which researchers from Western Carolina University will determine if a port is feasible.
Senior policy fellow Alan Thornburg says it's not about water, but is more about what he calls an inland intermodal facility for the transfer of goods. Professor Michael Smith says seaports are being overwhelmed.
Scott Hercik of the Appalachian Regional Commission says in 1970, about a million containers a year moved to and from U.S. seaports. By 2000, that number had grown to about 20 million. By 2020, he says it should be 50 million.
The commission sees a potential economic boon in an Appalachian
network of inland ports. An area in northern Virginia surrounding an inland port in Front Royal has added more than 7,000 jobs since its creation in the 1980s.