Updated regional partners to include Madison County.
ST. LOUIS, MO., SEPT. 24, 2014… East-West Gateway Council of Governments today voted to move forward with plans to have the Bi-State Development Agency (BSDA) lead a new regional freight partnership aimed at optimizing the region’s freight transportation infrastructure. America’s Gateway will capitalize on an anticipated 60 percent increase in national freight volume by the year 2040.
The creation of the new partnership is the outcome of months of planning in response to recommendations made in the 2013 Saint Louis Regional Freight Study which was commissioned by East-West Gateway. The study determined existing capabilities, gaps, and potential for growth in this sector of the region’s economy. East West Gateway then sponsored a Regional Freight Working Group, a team of regional leaders and industry experts committed to understanding the results of the study and developing a regional strategic action plan. The resulting plan calls for the establishment of a regional freight district and associated authority called America’s Gateway.
A broad consensus of freight experts suggests that the actions to be undertaken by America’s Gateway will boost St. Louis’ competitive position among its peers in becoming not only a premier multimodal freight center in the Midwest region through job and economic growth, but also a freight center with global reach ready to compete in international markets.
“America’s Gateway will close gaps in freight planning capabilities, providing the St. Louis region with an entity that can plan effectively for freight-related infrastructure improvements, act decisively on behalf of the entire region, and speak with one voice to both internal and external stakeholders,” said Ed Hillhouse, Executive Director of the East-West Gateway Council of Governments. “With its interstate compact powers, regional development authority and strong leadership, the Bi-State Development Agency is the ideal organization to take this initiative forward.”
“The Bi-State Development Agency was selected because of its unique position as an implementation arm for regional projects,” Hillhouse added. “Bi-State Development has led economic development and implementation for 60 years and we are excited they will lead this initiative.”
“We have been a part of the regional team working diligently on this initiative over the past months and are pleased to have been selected to lead the newly established partnership,” said John Nations, President and CEO of the Bi-State Development Agency. “This initiative is all about helping the Greater St. Louis region renew its ‘Gateway’ status, and we are eager to get to work on moving forward. America’s Gateway is in keeping with our vision to promote economic development for the region.”
AMERICA’S GATEWAY BACKGROUND
After examining various models of organizations leading freight economic development efforts in other parts of the country, the working group determined that a unique hybrid model would best support the partnership’s mission of driving regional economic growth by coordinating public and private efforts; optimizing the regional multimodal portfolio; and marketing Greater St. Louis’ multimodal opportunities. The plan calls for a public-private partnership to be established within the Bi-State Development Agency as a new operating enterprise. With oversight from the BSDA Board and its president and CEO, the partnership will be responsible for the following functions:
• Proactive needs analysis
• Planning, programming, and coordinating freight-related infrastructure improvements
• Marketing the region’s freight assets and opportunities
• Regional freight-related advocacy with both the public and private sector
• Operational oversight on freight-related projects
An executive advisory board representing regional stakeholders will be responsible for bringing action items to the Bi-State Development Agency Board, and will also serve as the Regional Freight Advisory Committee. An “Alliance” program will gain participation and insight from private stakeholders with an interest in regional freight-related economic development.
Initial organizational steps will be taken immediately, including the hiring of staff that will mature the concepts presented in the initial plan. The first position that will be filled is that of Executive Director of America’s Gateway. Other early operational activities will include formulating of the official by-laws for the organization, completing the membership of America’s Gateway’s Board, organizing the Alliance and transitioning the members of the Regional Freight District Working Group.
Partners involved in the Regional Freight Working Group include East-West Gateway, St. Louis Development Corporation, St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Clair County, St. Charles County, Madison County, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Missouri Department of Transportation, St. Louis Regional Chamber, Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois, and Terminal Railroad.
“The low cost of living, strategic position along the Mississippi River, low highway congestion, considerable space for land development and a reasonable business tax environment all make St. Louis attractive as a manufacturing and distribution center,” Nations said. “Enhancing the capacity and capabilities of our regional freight system will support the growth of this sector of our economy and we look forward to working with the various partners involved to drive that growth.”
The new enterprise will involve participation from both Missouri and Illinois; from organizations both public and private, with an increasingly higher amount of private participation as it goes forward. It will involve public and private infrastructure which will encompass roads, rivers, rails, airports and pipelines.
Bi-State Development to Lead America’s Gateway continued
About Bi-State Development Agency
The Bi-State Development Agency/Metro (BSDA/Metro) is the operator of the Metro public transportation system for the St. Louis region, which includes the 87 vehicle, 46-mile MetroLink light rail system; 390 MetroBus vehicle fleet that operates on 75 MetroBus routes; and Metro Call-A-Ride, a paratransit fleet of 120 vans. BSDA/Metro also owns and operates St. Louis Downtown Airport and its surrounding industrial business park, and the Gateway Arch Riverboats, as well as operates the Gateway Arch Revenue Collections Center, the Gateway Arch Transportation System, and the Gateway Arch Parking Facility.