Economic Development News

One giant step for the Heartland Port Authority
Published: Monday, May 25, 2020
By: Missy Bonnot, Director of Economic Development

On May 15th the General Assembly voted 145-3 in favor of transferring 116 acres from the state to the Heartland Port Authority. The land is intended to be used for a River Port to transport commercial goods by barge up and down the Missouri River.

The land is situated between the Ike Skelton Training Center and the Algoa Correctional facility off of No More Victims Road on the East Side of Jefferson City. 

“We would like to thank the sponsors of this bill, Senator Bernskoetter, and Representative Rudy Veit.” said Heartland Port Authority Chairman Rick Mihalevich.  “Without their hard work and perseverance, the passage of this legislation wouldn’t have happened.”

According to Vice Chairman of the Heartland Port Roger Fischer, “This has been a long term regional economic development project with Jefferson City, Cole and Callaway partnering to leverage resources. We started all working together on Project Port several years ago but it wasn’t until Summer of 2018 that we made application to Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission and we were designated a Port Authority in September of 2018; that’s when it became real and the work became real too!”

Most recently the Port Authority applied for and was awarded a $183,700 grant by the Missouri Agricultural Small Business Development Authority for a Market Study and Business Development Plan.  Once again, the Port Authority reached out to partners, Missouri Soybean Association and Missouri Corn Growers Association to help fund a portion of the study. 

The study was recently completed and after 6 months of in-depth research by Iowa Based Decision Innovation Solutions it shows that the operation of a port in Central Missouri would be economical to potential users in a 24-county area. The primary draw however is Cole, Osage, Moniteau, Miller, Maries, Callaway and Boone Counties.

As part of the study, a potential conceptual structure and operational model was provided and based on a landlord port model concept, the Heartland Port could execute a concession agreement with an entity that would operate the Port and pay a concession fee to the Port Authority.

The next step for the Heartland Port is to utilize the USDA-Rural Business Development Grant that was recently applied for and awarded to the Port for conceptual design and environmental work. The $120,000 grant will be used for:  preliminary planning purposes, including but not limited to, NEPA reviews, archaeological and historical preservations studies, and preliminary engineering design. This planning phase will be completed as a step toward site development and future funding opportunities.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was signed into law on January 1, 1970. NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions.  

As with any long-term project you take one step at a time. It seems daunting if you think about all the elements that go into a project as large as the Port such as infrastructure, environmental requirements, funding, staffing and did I mention funding?  We know that in order to be successful federal and state funding sources will need to be leveraged with private dollars to make the port viable.

For more detailed information go to the Chamber website and look for Heartland Port Authority.


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