LaHood Joins Bipartisan Letter Asking Army Corps to Grant Local Port Request

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[September 14, 2020] 

Representatives Darin LaHood (R-IL), Abby Finkenauer (D-IA), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), and Dave Loebsack (D-IA) sent a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday asking for expedited approval of a local request to improve economic opportunity at Iowa and Illinois ports along the Mississippi River.

The request asks the Corps to collectively designate the Mississippi River Ports of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois (MRPEIWI), the Mid-America Port, and the Illinois Waterways Ports and Terminals as the Corn Belt Port Statistical Areas. Approval of the statistical area designations would make it easier for the ports to attract business and investment.

"Recognition of this group of ports as a multi-modal port region stands to benefit economies of the Tri-State area through better regional marketing and more economic development opportunities,” the members wrote in the letter. “It will help raise the region’s profile to improve national and global visibility and competitiveness, helping attract a wide range of public and private investment. In 2017, each of these port areas moved over 6 million tons of food and food products, making them some of the most active ports on the Mississippi river."

"Access to inland waterways is critical to the economic viability of our communities in central and west-central Illinois. Inland waterways allow small businesses farmers, and manufacturers to export commodities around the world and keep them competitive in the global economy,” said Congressman Darin LaHood. “Establishing the Corn Belt Ports as a statistical area in western Illinois and eastern Iowa will facilitate greater regional coordination that will raise the region’s global profile and bolster economic development. I am proud to join this effort to strengthen economic opportunities along waterways in the Tri-State Region."

"We must do everything we can to invest in water-transportation infrastructure, support our river communities and open up new opportunities for private investment,” Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer said. “The Mississippi River is a national treasure, and an essential transportation route for moving our agricultural products into national and international markets. I’m proud to lift up the voices of Iowa’s local communities and join my colleagues from across the river in supporting this important designation."

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"Our inland waterways are critical to delivering tons of goods to market each year and supporting the hard work of our agricultural producers,” Congresswoman Cheri Bustos said. “This local economic driver provides our region with a competitive edge and is a critical part of our transportation infrastructure. I’m pleased to join my colleagues today to push to ensure the strength of our waterways are recognized and supported into the future."

"Recognition of existing ports in the heart of the Corn Belt makes the multi-state region more globally visible and competitive,” former Rock Island District Commander Robert A. Sinkler, COL, U.S. Army (Ret.) said. “The bipartisan leadership behind this initiative gives a big boost to realizing the value of the region’s multi-modal transportation infrastructure to the nation and the global marketplace."

Background on Mississippi River Ports of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois (MRPEIWI):

The purpose of creating a Mississippi River Ports of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois (MRPEIWI) Port Statistical Area is to highlight the importance of the region in transporting goods. If approved, the Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center (WCSC) would report data for the MRPEIWI and demonstrate that it ranks in the top 100 ports in the United States, by tonnage moved.

This recognition would improve awareness of the importance of MRPEIWI and promote usage of the Mississippi River for shipping goods. This would also raise awareness of the importance of investing in inland waterway infrastructure.

The proposed MRPEIWI consists of existing ports and terminals along the Mississippi River between Iowa and Illinois from river mile 361.5 in Keokuk, Iowa to river mile 580 in Dubuque, Iowa. MRPEIWI would encompass 50 existing Iowa barge terminals, and about 20 existing barge terminals in Illinois.

[Congressman Darin LaHood]

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