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Mid-America Intermodal Port will be ‘Game-changer’ for Region’s Economy

Charles Bell

Posted on May 26, 2016

By Doug Wilson, Herald-Whig

From the banks of the Mississippi River, a group of stakeholders saw the site where the Mid-America Intermodal Authority Port is completing federal permits.

“This would be a $27.95 million project,” said Ann Schneider, a consultant who is working with the port commission on grant applications.

Sixty-five business, government and community leaders gathered Monday at the Quincy Country Club to hear about progress on funding for the port. Schneider told how a variety of grant applications and development opportunities are being pursued for the project.

One CEO said the company he leads in the South Quincy Development District could add $200 million in annual sales and hire more than 100 additional employees if the port is built. Others told how freight shipping would give their companies a chance to expand.

“It’s really a game-changer for the entire area,” said Mike Troup of Quincy. “Just the construction alone of building this port would be a huge economic boost to the whole region, and that’s nothing compared to what will happen with the actual use of that port.”

Former Quincy Mayor C. David Nuessen said the port is one of the biggest economic development projects ever pursued by the region.

“It would expand our job base both in terms of companies that are already here and in terms of new companies,” Nuessen said.

Staff members from several members of Congress attended. Six U.S. senators and four members of the U.S. House already have signed letters of support for the port.

“I know the congressman wants to be helpful in whatever way he can,” said Brad Stotler, district director for U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap.

Participants from Missouri and Iowa praised the three-state effort. They said the regional nature of the port will help business interests beyond Quincy. They also talked about the possibility of having satellite ports elsewhere after the Quincy site becomes a reality.

After a briefing, many of the stakeholders took a bus tour past dock facilities operated by the city of Quincy and ADM. The bus also took a quick trip through the underground warehouse facility operated by Midwest Controlled Storage at 3411 Gardner Expressway.

Marcel Wagner Jr. said the caves provide millions of square feet of secure, temperature- and humidity-controlled storage. Computer systems and backups are kept at the site, where fiber optic lines provide ultra-high-speed connections.

Schneider, who previously was Illinois secretary of transportation, said a FastLane grant looks especially promising for the port. Twenty-five percent of the grants are supposed to go to rural areas. The grant program also is designed specifically for freight projects.

“They’re looking for projects that are very impactful, and I think we have a good story to tell,” Schneider said.

Port officials say the 500-year levee that protects thousands of acres within the South Quincy Development District offers security and room for growth.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also recognizes Quincy as the northernmost point on the Mississippi River which remains ice-free during most winters.

U.S. Department of Transportation projections shown by Schneider show how freight shipments are expected to grow by 45 percent by 2040, clogging 30,000 miles of the nation’s busiest highways. She said river and rail shipping will help meet freight needs.

Source: Herald-Whig

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