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America's Central Port is proud to announce a $630,000 grant award from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) under its Opportunity Zone Program. The program bolsters the competitiveness of the state's Opportunity Zones by providing matching funds for infrastructure investments and site readiness activities to help attract Opportunity Zone investment.

The Port's submission, spearheaded by Planner Christie Voelker, will realign and reconstruct West Fourth Street in the Port's Warehouse District. The realignment and reconstruction of this street will move it further away from the warehouses it serves, allowing for more effective truck circulation and improving last mile efficiencies for both future prospects and manufacturing tenants already at the Port looking to grow.

With the potential for new development on the 60-acres of undeveloped and rail-served land adjacent to this street, this particular infrastructure investment is ideally poised to attract private investment and employment opportunities to this Opportunity Zone census tract. (The proposed project is located in census tract 17119400200, a designated Opportunity Zone.)

In addition to the capacity for new businesses, a current tenant adjacent to W. Fourth Street is considering expansion of their facility. The expansion would entail an estimated $3 million investment and the retention of 19 jobs, with the potential to create an additional 15 jobs over the next five years. Stating that reliable and efficient last-mile logistics is required to remain competitive in their industry, the construction of this road will be a significant advantage for their operation.

The reconstruction and realignment of West Fourth Street will take approximately 13 months. Detailed design has already begun, and documents will be ready for bidding later this year. The project is projected to be completed by June, 2021.

We’d like to thank the City of Madison, St. Louis Regional Freightway, Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois, and Southwestern Illinois Metropolitan and Regional Planning Commission for providing letters of recommendation to help secure this grant.

Pictured right, John Hamm III, Mayor for the City of Madison, Illinois, has served on the board at America's Central Port since 1997. His recent service as the Chairman of the Board for this past 2020 fiscal year marks his sixth term as Chairman. The Port is honored to recognize his exceptional service and appreciates his continued leadership.

Pictured left, former mayor for the City of Grafton, Illinois, Tom Thompson, was appointed to the board in 2015, elected Treasurer in July of 2018, and will serve as Chairman of the Board for America’s Central Port starting in July of 2020 through June 2021.

Created in 1959 by the State of Illinois, America's Central Port is a special-purpose unit of local government whose mission is to develop multi-modal transportation, create business expansion opportunities, and facilitate and assist in job creation for the region.

On June 30th, U.S. Representative Bost (IL-12) introduced bipartisan legislation to increase access to critical federal funding for small ports, terminals, and waterways. Bost’s bill, the Coastal and Inland Ports and Terminals Commerce Improvements Act, establishes a competitive grant matching program for projects at smaller ports and terminals AND makes privately-owned terminals that are important contributors of our maritime commerce system eligible for assistance.

America’s inland ports and terminals are a vital and undervalued contributor to the movement of commerce,” said Aimee Andres, Executive Director of Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals, Inc. of East Alton, Illinois.

“Every year, 575 million tons of cargo travels through our inland ports and waterways, including America's Central Port and Kaskaskia Port in Southern Illinois” said Bost. “Half a million American jobs depend upon inland shipping, yet these ports are at a disadvantage when competing for federal grants. Improving these facilities will have a big impact on our economy and help make local farmers, miners, and manufacturers more competitive in the marketplace.”

In 2019, Congress enacted the PORTS Act to provide matching grants for enhancing operations and efficiency investments at our larger ports. Bost's Coastal and land Ports and Terminals Commerce Improvements Act, which was co-sponsored by U.S. Rep Conor Lamb (D-PA), expands upon the success of the PORTS Act by better utilizing an existing set-aside to establish a similar competitive grant matching program for  smaller coastal and inland ports and terminals.

The legislation sponsored by Congressman Bost (R-IL) and Congressman Lamb (D-PA), addresses inequities in existing law that have placed smaller coastal ports and terminals at a disadvantage when competing for infrastructure investments and create long-term sustainability. We appreciate their leadership on this important issue to IRPT Members”, said Andres.

This historic piece of legislation, which allows private terminals eligibility, is truly bi-partisan. The bill, sponsored by Bost (R-IL) and Lamb (D-PA), is co-sponsored by Congressmen Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Bob Gibbs (R-OH), and Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-WV), Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA) and Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (D-MO).

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