5 months, 1 week ago From illinoisagconnection.com
The state-funded project will increase access, create jobs
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn Thursday was joined by local and state officials to break ground on a new $7 million multi-modal transportation project that will service the future Port of East St. Louis. The state-funded project will increase access, create jobs and establish utility service to the area. Today's announcement follows news of another historic drop in Illinois' unemployment rate that has reached nearly six-year lows. The groundbreaking event is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to create jobs and drive Illinois' economy forward.
"It's all about location in the shipping industry, and East St. Louis is ideally situated to ship and receive goods by truck, rail or river," Governor Quinn said. "The Port of East St. Louis will be a major economic driver for the Metro East region, and I'm proud to get the ball rolling by constructing road and rail access to this facility."
A $5 million investment from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Rivers Edge program will be combined with $1.25 million from the port's developers to construct an on-site road, rail lines and utilities to service the port. This will prepare the site for development and when complete will allow full access to the site by truck, train and barge. Another DCEO Rivers Edge investment of $2 million to Slay Industries/Kinder Morgan will be used for the private property portion of the road.
"Thanks to the state of Illinois assistance, East St. Louis and Slay Industries/Kinder Morgan are partnering to bring long-term, sustainable, good-paying, green jobs to the community," East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks said. "The collaboration is also setting up a world-class transportation network for moving freight. This is one of the city's most important developments in decades."
"This port will be an economic hub for East St. Louis," DCEO Director Adam Pollet said. "Transportation is a vital asset in Illinois, and this administration is committed to supporting it with investments that will create jobs and spending by the private sector."
Thursday's groundbreaking comes following news that Illinois' unemployment rate in July continued its drop to 6.8 percent, the lowest level in more than five years, and 10,300 new jobs were added to the state's workforce. The data was released earlier today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
"East St. Louis has the potential to become a hub of business and industry once again," State Senator James Clayborne (D-East St. Louis) said. "This kind of investment in the future of the community shows the state's dedication to create jobs, fight poverty and revitalize the area."
Strong job growth in key industries pushed the rate down three-tenths of a point to its lowest level since the fall of 2008. Specialty trade contractors' payrolls posted healthy gains for the third straight month, fueled in large part by Governor Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program. Construction payrolls are up by 8,500 jobs since the beginning of the year, nearly four times as strong as the gain posted for this same period in 2013.
The Port of East St. Louis will be a 200-acre, multi-modal facility that will link the Midwest to the world through waterway, highway and rail connections. The public-private partnership will be the single most important business development opportunity that the city has seen in the past 15 years. It is less than a mile from the Poplar Street River Bridge and will have open access to Class I railroads with maximum unit train capabilities. The port's location within the St. Louis Harbor, which is a natural barge tow interchange, will allow it to maximize its multi-modal capabilities without overloading one particular mode of transportation. It will ultimately include public docks, cargo cranes and manufacturing and warehouse facilities.