Congressman Darin LaHood is urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to create a special local port request along the Mississippi River. LaHood joins Illinois Democrat Cheri Bustos and Iowa Democrats Abby Finkenauer and Dave Loesback in a letter asking for the creation of the Corn Belt Port Statistical Areas. Approval of the statistical area designations would make it easier for the ports to attract business and investment.
In the letter, the group says that 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. According to the letter, each of these port areas in 2017 moved over 6 million tons of food and food products, making them some of the most active ports on the Mississippi River.
LaHood says that inland waterway access provided by the ports allow West Central Illinois businesses, farmers, and manufacturers to stay competitive in the global market. He says it will also help bolster regional communication and coordination of the economies in the Tri-State region.
If the port statistical area is allowed to be created, it would show the region’s ports rank in the Top 100 in the country by tonnage moved. It could also possibly facilitate quicker investment into inland waterway infrastructure by the government and through private entities. The Mississippi River Ports of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois encompasses 50 existing Iowa barge terminals, and 20 in Illinois.