The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved the creation of the three Port Statistical Areas (PSAs) in the Heart of the Corn Belt, which includes key ports in Illinois and Iowa. The Corps will 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 will make it easier for the ports to attract business and investment, grow the local economy and create new jobs.
In September, 18th District Republican Congressman Darin LaHood and 17th District Democratic Congresswoman Cheri Bustos along with Iowa representatives Abby Finkenauer and Dave Loebsack sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking for expedited approval of a local request to improve economic opportunity at Illinois and Iowa ports along the Mississippi River.
LaHood said in a press release today that the approval brings good news to rural areas of Central Illinois by creating the ports to give access to international trade opportunity. LaHood says it will also facilitate greater coordination in the tri-state region on the Mississippi River and help bolster more economic development.
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. The recognition would promote usage of the Mississippi River for shipping goods and possibly provide more federal and private dollars invested in the region’s inland waterway infrastructure. The proposed statistical area covers over 225 miles of waterway and approximately 20 existing barge terminals in Illinois along the Mississippi River.