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  January 24th, 2024 | Written by

Corn Belt Ports Expands Presence with New Office to Boost Tri-State Growth

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In a move to catalyze economic development in the Tri-State region, Corn Belt Ports inaugurated its latest office at the Johnson-Turner Innovation, Design, and Experimental Activities Center on the Culver-Stockton College campus. The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the official opening, reinforcing partnerships to drive growth and investment in the Tri-States.

The new office plays a pivotal role in supporting the Tri-State Mid-America Port Commission, one of the regional Corn Belt Ports. Acting in conjunction with the Tri-State Development Summit, this collaboration forms a cornerstone for regional economic development efforts. Corn Belt Ports Executive Coordinating Director Bob Sinkler expressed confidence that working closely with the Tri-State Development Summit, housed at Culver-Stockton, will accelerate growth and investment in the region.

Culver-Stockton President Lauren Schellenberger highlighted the college’s commitment to the regional impact of the Mississippi River, port development, and flood control. She emphasized the educational benefits of hosting the regional office, exposing college students to essential aspects of economic development, the significance of the Mississippi River, and the role of agriculture in the region.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony witnessed the participation of leaders in economic development, river issues, agriculture, and elected officials. Mid-America Port Commission Chairman Blake Roderick emphasized the increased visibility of the central U.S. ports, extending beyond Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri to become integral to the nation’s core transportation system.

Ralph Martin, Executive Director of the Lewis County Port Authority, recognized the significance of the new office in drawing attention to the region’s ongoing initiatives. Expanding strategic partnerships not only enhances the integration of ports into the regional economic landscape but also aids in attracting state and federal funding. Sinkler noted that Corn Belt Ports has attracted over $2 billion in funding and aims to sustain this investment.

The Canton office is part of Corn Belt Ports’ broader expansion, with recently opened offices in Peoria, Ill., and on the Western Illinois University campus in the Quad Cities. Another office in the LaCrosse, Wis./Wenona, Minn. area is expected to open by the end of February, reflecting Corn Belt Ports’ commitment to responsiveness tailored to each region’s needs.

Recognized as a Top 50 Power Port by Global Trade magazine in 2023, Mid-America Port Commission currently stands as the 39th largest port in the U.S. Sinkler highlighted the importance of visibility, making a compelling case for increased investment in the region.

While celebrating past successes, the top priority for Corn Belt Ports remains the completion of lock and dam projects, including the funding of design work on five locks in the Mid-America Port Commission area authorized by Congress for construction. The long-term investment in infrastructure, particularly in transportation along the Mississippi River, remains critical for the region’s economic prowess, as emphasized by Darrick Steen, Director of Public Policy with the Missouri Corn Growers Association.

The strategic location of the new office overlooking the Mississippi River and Lock and Dam 20 serves as a constant reminder of the ongoing work required for the region’s prosperity, underlining the importance of Corn Belt Ports’ commitment to the continued development of the Tri-State area.