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Imagine your prospect is half way around the world, or maybe just hunkered in at home and not interested in jumping through hoops to see your facility.

How do you engage their attention?

Let me introduce you to the latest in virtual tour technology.

Nothing beats an in-person tour of America's Central Port. The challenge though is convincing a prospect to come out in the first place. Seekbeak's virtual tour software and advancements in high resolution drone photography have given us a tool crucial to engage, nurture, and close new deals. From real estate, to planning, to workforce engagement, we think it's safe to say this technology will be a game changer moving forward.

Benefit #1: Real Estate & Site Selection Marketing

Anyone in a business or economic development role working in the commercial and industrial real estate space can tell you what it's like to engage and nurture prospective new businesses for your properties.

In the past, you were limited to brochures, maps, aerials, and video. With advancements in virtual tour technology and high resolution photography, engaging new leads and nurturing prospects through the planning and building phases of a project have never been more rewarding. Being able to walk through details that involve spatial data points, such as where a site sits in relation to the entrances and exits to the Port removes significant headaches from the site selection process.

Other phenomenal benefits include our new ability to provide tours of our facility to those outside driving distance. To date, this software has helped us engage prospects from Texas to South Korea and everything in between. In addition, when we are able to have someone out for an in-person site visit, being able to kick things off with an aerial tour followed by a driving tour creates for one memorable experience. This new way of presenting adds an additional layer of value by providing a tool the prospect can take with them where they can easily show our facility to other decision makers throughout their organization.

Benefit #2: Engineering and Construction Planning

Internally, meetings that involve planning, construction projects, and engineering discussions are significantly easier with virtual tour software. When we were in the process of discussing the 4th Street realignment and paving project, being able to demonstrate using 360 views of key intersections and transportation routes was crucial to communicating with Port tenants and our engineering and construction partners. Where we were once limited to engineering drawings and GIS aerials, we can now supplement both with easy to navigate virtual tours. It has shaved hours and even days off the normal allotted time for meetings and planning discussions.

Benefit #3: Workforce Engagement & Awareness

We wanted a way to showcase our manufacturers and the many jobs we have here at America's Central Port. Using a mix of 360 cameras and drone technology, we were able to capture some phenomenal shots of the various employment opportunities here at the Port. To see the full lineup of employers featured in our tour, visit our Job Opportunities page here:

If you have ever wondered what's inside the non-descript buildings you drive by everyday, these tours will give you that behind the scenes look. Mattingly Lumber for example manufacturers trusses, walls, and doors, employs over 150 people at this location, and is always on the lookout for new motivated hires to come on board.

Beyond the manufacturing tours, you'll also get to see what it's like behind the driver seats of tugboats, cranes, locomotives, grain elevators and more. Ever wondered what it's like to be a captain of a tugboat? We weren't able to grab a 360 while the boat was in motion (that's illegal), but what we were able to snag is still pretty cool if you ask us.

If you find yourself interested in seeing any of the facilities featured in our virtual tour, know we are happy to accommodate. Whether you are a manufacturer or industrial enterprise, or an educator, student, or prospective new hire, you can schedule a tour here:

On August 15, 2007, FEMA announced their intention to de-accredit the 65-mile St. Louis Metro East levee system protecting Illinois communities in Madison, St. Clair, and Monroe Counties, home to 156,000 residents and over 4,000 businesses.

The region’s leadership recognized that extraordinary measures were necessary to protect this economic asset and the homes and livelihoods of a large portion of the region’s population. A new revenue source was created in 2008 and a regional organization (The Southwest Illinois Flood Prevention District Council) was formed to carry out an ambitious plan to secure the new FEMA accreditation levels and maintain a level of flood protection that has been in place for some 75 years.

In order to achieve the FEMA accreditation standards announced in 2007, additional infrastructure including pump stations, gravity drains, relief wells, landside berms, and cutoff walls were needed to protect against what is known as underseepage (illustrated below).

If the Southwestern Illinois region had done nothing, property insurance premiums would have skyrocketed and placed an enormous financial burden on businesses and residents in the region, making it nearly impossible to attract future development. In a study conducted in 2010, it was found that a business producing $5 million in annual sales, with a mortgage on their $750,000 property, would face an additional insurance premium per year of $52,500! (

Developments like Gateway Commerce Center in Edwardsville, Gateway TradePort in Pontoon Beach, America's Central Port in Granite City, Alton's Center Business Park, the industrial corridor in East St. Louis and Cahokia, and the freight partners and major manufacturers throughout the region would likely have halted further investment, possibly even relocated due to over-burdensome costs and financial strain.

Recognizing the urgency of this situation, regional leaders successfully sought authorization from the Illinois General Assembly to impose a ¼ percent sales tax to pay for any necessary improvements to the levee system and created independent Flood Prevention Districts (FPDs) within each county with the authority to collect the tax. The FPD Council was formed by the three county FPDs as a joint venture to oversee the restoration of the Metro East to protect the lives, property and the economic vitality of the Southwest Illinois region.

Over the last 15 years, incredible lengths have been taken to secure what we get to celebrate this week, the 100-year level FEMA accreditation for all of the Metro East levee systems. The proactive approach by the Metro East communities resulted in reaching the 100-year improvements and accreditation 22 years sooner and at half the cost than pursuing the project through federal funding only. The region has come a long way to achieve this honor, and working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the region is continuing to pursue levee system improvements to achieve the updated 500-year level standards. The actions taken by our region are a text book example of how local communities can take initiative on levee system improvements while working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to produce an optimum result. Above all we have proven our three-county region can come together and act as one to ensure Southwestern Illinois continues to grow and succeed.


Dennis Wilmsmeyer Executive Director, America’s Central Port Dennis Wilmsmeyer has served as the Executive Director of America’s Central Port (ACP) since 2010. Prior to that time, he spent 11 years with the Port, six of those as general manager. He joined the Port team in 1999 after 12 years in transportation planning and project management with the East-West Gateway Council of Governments in St. Louis, the City of Kansas City and a private consulting firm in Missouri. As Executive Director, Dennis oversees a staff of 35, as well as manages an annual operating budget of $9 million. He is responsible for the economic development on 1,200 acres of Port-owned or operated land, in which ACP has experienced $300 million in private investment since 2008.

Neal Langdon Executive Vice President, Arcosa Marine Products Neal Langdon currently serves as the Executive Vice President of Sales at ARCOSA Marine Products. ARCOSA builds tank, hopper and deck barges at their various locations, as well as barge covers and marine components under the Wintech and Nabrico name brands. Neal started his career in the Engineering Department at Nashville Bridge Company in 1980. He has held various positions through the years as the company was acquired by Trinity Marine Products and now ARCOSA.

Ron Tindall President, Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis Ron Tindall is the President of the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (TRRA). Ron came to TRRA from Trans-Global Solutions, where he was the company’s Compliance Officer. Prior to that role, Ron spent over 20 years with Union Pacific where he started as a brakeman/conductor/engineer and rose through the ranks, serving most recently as General Superintendent in the Western Region. Ron is known for leading dramatic turnarounds and reducing costs by developing cultures of accountability, problem solving and risk management.

Be sure to check out more from Freight Week STL, with virtual content posted each day between May 24-28, 2021. See here to learn more:

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