• The Natural Highways of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers Will Play An Even Bigger Role for Transportation of Goods in the Future

    Dec 08, 2016
    All Things River 130711On Monday, December 5, U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen visited the St. Louis Regional Chamber to announce six Marine Highway Grants. Partners from the Inland River Port & Terminal Association, the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association and the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative were also on hand for the announcement. 

    It is estimated that population increases in the United States over the next 30 years will require nearly doubling of the domestic freight capacity in the United States. This will exceed the capacity of the traditional modes of goods transports such as rail and highway and would require tremendous infrastructure investments to support. One of the potential economic solutions to this dramatic transportation demand increase is utilizing the inland waterway systems already in existence. Utilizing the various waterways but especially the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers that converge in the St. Louis Metropolitan area, provides tremendous potential economic advantages for the region and relief for future further congested infrastructure nationally. Currently the navigation economy on the Mississippi River generates $5 billion in annual revenues and supports approximately 20,000 jobs. 

    In support of the strategic planning required to meet this increased demand by utilizing “container- on- barges” services, a $713,000 grant was awarded to America’s Central Port located in Granite City, Illinois. The Illinois Container on Barge Shuttle is an 18-month demonstration project to provide shuttle service for agricultural customers moving containerized exports between southern and northern Illinois to access the Union Pacific and BNSF rail ramps. The shuttle service will operate on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers between Channahon and Granite City, Ill., with an option to extend container-on-barge service to the Gulf of Mexico ports in concert with related Marine Highway Designation.

    Currently there are over 30 million containers that enter the U.S. every year, but there are very few of them that move on the inland waterway system. An efficient container-on-barge shipping process would certainly help to change that. These initial grants are some of the first steps in the development of that process ultimately leading to as efficient and cost effective process as possible. Increased barge traffic on the natural resources of the Mississippi, Illinois and Missouri Rivers is not only a very good, viable option to additional infrastructure, it’s a great economic growth stimulator for the St. Louis Region. 
    To read more about the grants awarded for Marine Highway projects, visit the Maritime Administration website.

    Joe Reagan U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen
  • Legislators Honored at Chamber Champions Dinner

    Sep 20, 2016
    The St. Louis Regional Chamber held its annual “Championing a Greater St. Louis” Dinner at the Missouri Athletic Club in downtown St. Louis on September 19th.  The event recognized the service of members in the Illinois and Missouri General Assemblies, and acknowledged legislators who exhibited outstanding dedication and support for the Chamber’s legislative priorities in 2016 and the future.

    Chamber Policy Council Chair Jennifer Obertino, Vice President at AECOM, told the gathering that the Regional Chamber recognizes that public service is not easy, and sometimes doing the right thing is not always acknowledged or rewarded as an elected official. Speaking directly to the many legislators in attendance she thanked them for their service, dedication, and courage to make life better for everyone.

    Addressing the over 200 business leaders and elected officials, Regional Chamber President and CEO Joe Reagan emphasized the Chamber’s work in bringing people together for the benefit of a unified St. Louis region. Everyone, he said, has a role to play in driving equitable, abundant job creation and economic growth by advocating for public polices in three key areas: safety and security, equity and opportunity, and building and investing in regional infrastructure.  

    Warner Baxter, Chairman, President and CEO of Ameren and the new Board Chair for the Regional Chamber also thanked legislators for their leadership and dedication to inspiring a greater St. Louis, saying that “It is not just about fighting against legislative and policy initiatives…it is about being for something.” Baxter said the Chamber’s role in delivering this positive change to St. Louis is to drive economic development, market the region, prepare the workforce, and provide a policy perspective on the most important regional issues and priorities. 

    The 2016 honorees included Legacy Award winners Missouri Senators Joe Keaveny and Eric Schmitt for their tremendous public service and commitment to the Chamber’s priorities throughout their careers.  

    Sen. Eric Schmitt

    Missouri Sen. Eric Schmitt Receiving the Legacy Award

    Sen. Joe Keaveny

    Missouri Sen. Joe Keaveny Giving his Acceptance Speech after Receiving the Legacy Award

    The Regional Chamber also recognized Missouri Reps. Mike Colona, Jim Hansen, Jeremy LaFaver, Sharon Pace, Caleb Rowden and Anne Zerr as Chamber Champions. These legislators helped to defeat SJR39, a far-reaching proposal to legalize discrimination against the LGBT community despite evidence of negative social and economic impact from similar legislation in other states. 

    Missouri Rep. Mike Kelley was recognized as a Chamber Champion for his sponsorship of a Missouri Earned Income Tax Credit, a Chamber priority in 2016, while Missouri Sen. Bob Dixon was recognized for his leadership in changing the use of deadly force for law enforcement.

    In addition to the Chamber Champion awardees, the Regional Chamber gave Advocate awards to Missouri Sen. Doug Libla for his efforts to obtain sufficient transportation funding by sponsoring a gas tax increase through the Senate, as well as Speaker of the House Todd Richardson for his continued commitment to meaningful ethics reform.

    The Chamber also recognized Missouri Sen. Kurt Schaefer and Missouri Rep. Tom Flanigan as Advocates. Sen. Schaefer and Rep. Flanigan led the effort to secure additional funding for the Missouri Technology Corporation, a public-private partnership that is critical to developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Missouri.

    The Regional Chamber bestowed four Catalyst Awards to up-and-coming lawmakers that demonstrate promise for advancing priority issues for the Chamber in the future.  Missouri Reps. Justin Alferman and Shamed Dogan and Illinois Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Jerry Costello, II received the awards for ethics reform efforts, work on the Illinois budget crisis, and economic development in Southwest Illinois, respectively.

    Joe Reagan

    Regional Chamber President & CEO Joe Reagan Addressing Guests at the Dinner

    See more photos from the event on the Chamber's Facebook page.