New Illinois Waterway Port District Plots Future

New Illinois Waterway Port District Plots Future
December 20, 2022 Matt Fernandes

This article originally ran in the Waterways Journal on Nov. 28, 2022. 

A lot has changed in the years since Robert Sinkler, former commander of the Rock Island Engineer District, began his efforts to persuade terminals and ports on the Upper Mississippi River and along the Illinois River to band together in statistical port districts. Local business and civic leaders now have lined up behind the idea.

On October 12, when the Illinois Waterways Ports had its first of what is planned to become annual meetings at the EastPort Marina in East Peoria, Ill., State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) spoke about how the port designation would help the district attract investments. The federal designation last year named a 10-county, 175-mile stretch of the river as the Illinois Waterway Ports and Terminals Port Statistical Area. Peoria Mayor Rita Ali and East Peoria Mayor John Kahl both spoke at the event, and the meeting received heavy coverage from local media outlets.

Sinkler, who is also the water infrastructure director for the Heart of Illinois Regional Port District, said Illinois waterways support 160,000 jobs and generate $36 billion in economic activity each year. He said the statistical port designation “opens up or increases the opportunity for additional federal investment from a wide variety of sources, to flow into the region.”

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