An economic development project in one of Illinois' most impoverished communities is taking a big step forward.
Governor J-B Pritzker visited southernmost Illinois Tuesday to announce $40 million in Rebuild Illinois funds is going to an inland terminal at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers at Cairo. The first $4 million is being released now. The governor says this is a game-changing investment.
"Establishing Cairo as a national hub for the shipping and logistics industry and anchoring a new link between the Midwest and global markets. It's all right here in southern Illinois."
Cairo Mayor Thomas Simpson says the port will breathe new life into the community.
"It will allow us to provide public services that our citizens deserve and bring back businesses like grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants the city needs."
State Senator Dale Fowler has championed the project for years. The Harrisburg republican says some multi-billion dollar companies have expressed interest in the project and are awaiting an announcement like this that the terminal is moving forward. He anticipates that it could create hundreds of jobs across the region. He says the future for this industry is bright with container transportation on barges projected to double by 2030.
Fowler and Governor Pritzker highlighted 80% of the inland barge traffic in the U.S. passes through the confluence at Cairo.