Spirit of St. Louis – Pick Your Charity, Pick Your Car

Major manufacturing, transportation, and distribution jobs could soon be coming to town

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - It’s one of the best kept secrets in the St. Louis area, and area leaders are trying to change that. America’s Central Port District is where a host of transportation modes come together. Located north of downtown St. Louis, area leaders say the port is perfectly positioned to attract business from around the word. The location includes warehouse space and apartments.

Dennis Wilmsmeyer, the port’s executive director, says a recent study found America’s Central Port is more cost-effective at moving transportation than other cities fighting for the same businesses.

“We ranked as number one in terms of the lowest cost of transportation coming into and out of the St. Louis region,” Wilmsmeyer said.

Companies already invested in the port predict once the cost advantages are known, some major investing will follow. The port’s advantages include rivers that don’t freeze, as well as access to major railroads, airports, and a web of interstates.

“When they come in and see a facility like this to where there’s trucks, trains and the barges all right here, and there’s so many partners working together, it just gives them the confidence that their company will also be successful,” said Brad Reinhart, President of Giltner St. Louis.

Carl Yount, vice president of Port Harbor Railroad, has traveled the country, and feels America’s Central Port has advantages industry counterparts don’t even know about.

“A lot of facilities don’t offer where a rail could come in and place cars on one side, be unloaded, cross dock to the other side to trucks,” said Yount. “A lot of the network individuals I work with are not even aware of that.”

Reinhart and other port officials say they America’s Central Port District must do a better job of letting the rest of the world know about those advantages. The port is part of a newly formed freight district, hoping to attract more businesses to the region. Port leaders are trying to convince manufacturers they will save money if the locate their business in the district.

“If they’re going to have one distribution center in North America, have it in the center,” Wilmsmeyer said . “Have it in St. Louis.”

A recent study found the port’s annual economic impact on Madison County, Illinois is $282 million. It supports more than 1,000 jobs. The port recently celebrated an expansion and leaders say there is no telling how much growth is in the future, or how many new jobs could come to the area.

“There’s new businesses that have been opening up monthly here,” Reinhart said.

Port leaders believe investments in transportation infrastructure will pay off, especially given the built in advantages America’s Central Port District boasts.