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p01 central portAn aerial view of America’s Central Port in Granite City, taken in 2016.Special to the Illinois Business Journal
    Wanting to leverage a key access point on the Mississippi River and a central location for U.S. distribution, legislators passed a law on April 1, 1959, to form America’s Central Port, a special purpose unit of government that operates within its own means without collecting tax revenue.
    Centrally located in Granite City, with access to four U.S. interstates, six Class-I railroads, 30 miles of rail, two multi-modal harbors, warehousing, and 100 acres of development-ready land, the port serves as an asset for manufacturers across the food, fiber, and energy supply chains. Today the port’s tenants provide 900 full-time jobs and an annual economic impact of $282 million on the local economy.
    Viewing transportation and logistics as key to maintaining a competitive edge in global markets, advancements in river, rail, and road infrastructure are among America’s Central Port’s top priorities to attract new tenants.
    The 60-year-old port transports $1.1 billion in freight annually.
    “America’s Central Port plays an essential role in bringing jobs and direct investment to the region,” said Mary Lamie, executive director of the St. Louis Regional Freightway. The development is the northernmost lock and ice free river port and is “one of the most strategically located assets in the region for the entire freight industry.”
    James Alexander, senior vice president of economic development at the St. Louis Regional Chamber, called the port “a great partner. … They continue to do a phenomenal job in helping establish relationships to bring outside investment to the region.”
    Tim Nowak, executive director of World Trade Center St. Louis, noted the attraction to international interests.
    “America’s Central Port is a momentous driver in attracting foreign investment to the region. Its central location, abundance of Class I rail-served space, river access, and multimodal capabilities makes the port one of the region’s greatest assets to reach international markets,” Nowak said.
    The port area has played host to some key updates in the last few years, including the 2016 opening of the $50 million intermodal Madison Harbor, infrastructure improvements to increase the lifetime of various port facilities, and multiple rail expansion projects including a 1,500-foot rail spur installed in November 2018 to serve a 60-acre development-ready site for prospective tenants.
    Looking ahead, other projects include:
        - Renovations to a 6,500-square-foot former steam plant, a 42,000-square-foot former U.S. Army locomotive maintenance bay, and the addition of a rail spur and dump pit for a harbor bulk storage building. The total project cost is $3.27 million and the work should start this summer. The work is being financed by the U.S. Economic Development Agency.
        - Granite City Harbor Dock Surface Improvements (this will make last mile trans-loading more efficient at this particular harbor). The total project cost is $1,367,130, with an estimated start date of this summer. The granting agency is the Illinois Department of Transportation.
        - New right-in/right-out highway entrance to the port. The total cost is $2,000,340 and the work will be financed through IDOT with a start date of summer 2020.