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Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Darin LaHood (18th District of Illinois)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-18) announced on Monday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has 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 collectively 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 make it easier for the ports to attract business and investment, grow the local economy and create new jobs.  

“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,” said Congressman Darin LaHood. “Establishing the Corn Belt Ports as a statistical area in western Illinois and eastern Iowa will facilitate greater regional coordination that will raise the region’s global profile and bolster economic development. I am proud that this bipartisan effort will strengthen economic opportunities along waterways in the Tri-State Region.” 

“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.” 

“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 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 Darin LaHood (R-IL), Abby Finkenauer, Cheri Bustos (D-IL), and Congressman 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. 

Background on Mississippi River Ports of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois (MRPEIWI): 

The purpose of creating a Mississippi River Ports of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois (MRPEIWI) Port Statistical Area is to highlight the importance of the region in transporting goods. If approved, the Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center (WCSC) would report data for the MRPEIWI and demonstrate that it ranks in the top 100 ports in the United States, by tonnage moved. 

This recognition would improve awareness of the importance of MRPEIWI and promote usage of the Mississippi River for shipping goods. This would also raise awareness of the importance of 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 50 existing Iowa barge terminals, and about 20 existing barge terminals in Illinois.

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