With the goal of growing trade and building upon existing and new business relationships between the St. Louis region and the Port of New Orleans, the St. Louis Regional Freightway along with all three St. Louis area public ports and the Board of Commissioners for the Port of New Orleans signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on February 23, 2017 in New Orleans. The MOU formalizes a partnership for joint marketing efforts and the exchange of operational information. The event was symbolic of our region’s bi-state unification to advance economic development through the freight industry. Additionally, the MOU will create more opportunities for St. Louis regional ports and river terminals to capitalize on the recent growth in container on barge operations at the Port of New Orleans and the 500 million tons of cargo that annually move through the lower Mississippi River.
The signing trip included a tour of the Seacor AMH Terminal container on barge (COB) operations at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. The Baton Rouge COB shuttle to New Orleans is one of many steps that demonstrate COB as a viable mode of transportation along the inland waterway system. The Freightway, America’s Central Port, Kaskaskia Regional Port District, St. Louis Port District, SeacorSCF and Ingram Barge are working with national leaders, including freight forwarders and shippers, to identify and demonstrate the benefits of intermodal river transportation. The U.S. Department of Transportation projects freight tonnage moving on the nation’s transportation network will grow 40 percent in the next 30 years.
A good deal of focus is being placed on how intermodal river transportation can help meet this demand. Scrap metal, specialized grain, animal feeds, fabricated steel, seasonal furniture, tires, ceramic tiles and construction material are all commodities that could be easily transported via the inland waterways. The new partnership with the Port of New Orleans will better position the St. Louis region to help accommodate anticipated growth in freight volumes and will provide a competitive transportation option in the global marketplace. The trip also included meetings with Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and a tour with the U.S. Coast Guard Sector in New Orleans.
The St. Louis Region delegation included John Nations, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bi-State Development, Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Executive Director America’s Central Port (ACP in Granite City, IL), Ed Weilbacher, General Manager Kaskaskia Regional Port District (Red Bud, IL), Rick Barbee, Vice President of Marketing Seacor SCF Marine, Elizabeth Triggs, Business Development Analyst Ingram Barge, Mary Lamie, Executive Director St. Louis Regional Freightway, Susan Taylor, Director of Port Business Development St. Louis Development Corporation (St. Louis Port in St. Louis, MO), Asim Raza, Chief Legal Officer Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis and Masao Nishi, Strategic Consultant.