WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) announced recently that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 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 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 aid the ports in attracting business and investments, grow the local economy and create new jobs within the community.
“These port designations are historic for our region,” Congresswoman Cheri Bustos said. “This recognition from the Army Corps of Engineers will make clear to everyone what we in Northwest and Central Illinois already know: just how critical our inland waterways are to the nation’s economy. I was proud to join my colleagues in urging the Corps to make these designations, and I am pleased with the Corps’ decision, which will make the region even more competitive and drive our local economy moving forward.”
“I want to thank the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for reviewing our request and quickly granting it,” Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer said. “This designation from the Corps will mean an economic boost for Iowa, especially in Dubuque and Jackson Counties. I also want to thank Reps. Loebsack, LaHood and Bustos for working with us to push for this designation.”
“Federal approval of the Corn Belt Ports is great news for our rural communities in central and west-central Illinois. Access to inland waterways is critical to the economic viability of our communities and allows small businesses, farmers and manufacturers to export commodities around the world,” Congressman Darin LaHood said. “I am proud that this bipartisan effort will strengthen economic opportunities along waterways in the Tri-State Region.”
“I am happy to see the approval for the creation of these three new Port Statistical Areas, including the Mississippi River Ports of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois,” Congressman Dave Loebsack said. “This PSA designation recognizes Iowa’s strength in inland waterway commerce and raises the profile and competitiveness of our riverfront counties, and the entire Tri-State region. I am proud to have worked with so many different partners to help secure this approval and bring the economic development and infrastructure investment that will help Iowa grow.”
In September, Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Darin LaHood (R-IL), Abby Finkenauer and Dave Loebsack (D-IA) sent a bipartisan 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.
The creation of MRPEIWI Port Statistical Area would highlight the importance of the region in transporting goods. If approved, the Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center (WCSC) would report data for the MRPEIWI and improve awareness of the importance of MRPEIWI and investing in inland waterway infrastructure.
The proposed MRPEIWI consists of existing ports and terminals along the Mississippi River between Iowa and Illinois from river mile 361.5 in Keokuk, Iowa to river mile 580 in Dubuque, Iowa. MRPEIWI would encompass the 20 existing Illinois barge terminals, and the 50 existing barge terminals in Illinois.