DECATUR – Gov. Bruce Rauner, Archer Daniels Midland President/CEO Juan Luciano and many more were in Decatur to help introduce the market launch of the Midwest Inland Port on Friday.
President of the Economic Development Corporation Ryan McCrady began the introduction by highlighting the important strategic advantages the Midwest Inland Port (MIP) provides.
“I think what everyone saw today was that we have always had the pieces of the puzzle, but now they will start to be put in place,” says McCrady. “We are definitely hoping this will create an outstanding picture of what the future holds for Decatur and Macon County.”
McCrady also introduced members of the Strategic Development Coalition, which is comprised of several business leaders involved with the MIP.
“The organizations that comprise the Strategic Development Coalition represent a combination of global, national, regional and local perspectives that are all important as we work to achieve the potential of the Midwest Inland Port development,” said McCrady.
ADM CEO/President Juan Luciano spoke very highly of the MIP and its importance to ADM as well as Decatur and Macon County.
“As we at ADM continue making changes to strengthen our company in light of emerging opportunities in the marketplace, we are eager for Decatur and central Illinois to join us on this journey,” says Luciano. “The MIP represents one vital, important step in this journey. Now it is incumbent to us to think big about the future, to embrace innovation, and to work in partnership to usher in a new era of growth, diversification and overall quality of life in our region.”
Luciano says ADM is working very hard to make Illinois a major leader in food and beverage production and exports.
The members of the Strategic Development Coalition all spoke about their involvement with the MIP and gave reasons why the port is so vital to the City of Decatur and Macon County. The members included Scott Fredericksen- President of Transportation for ADM, Ron Pate- Senior Vice President for Ameren Illinois, Kevin McKenna- Executive Vice President of Clayco, Ken Smithmier, President/CEO of DMH, Kevin Shuba- CEO of OmniTRAX, and Jim Shultz- Director of the State of Illinois DCEO.
Ron Pate with Ameren Illinois says their company is a major player in the port because they offer the infrastructure to support any major operation that wants to come in. Since Ameren can provide electricity and gas for the area, Pate says they are also very invested on making the MIP a big sell for prospective companies.
“Ameren has a vested interest in this community and we are proud to be part of the team for this market launch,” says Pate. “We all know Decatur is perfectly suited to help businesses grow and flourish, and the MIP will serve as a centerpiece for those efforts.”
CEO of OmniTRAX Kevin Shuba shared some stories of their success in other parts of the country and said he wanted to bring that success here to Decatur in the form of a big industrial park. Essentially, the park would be available for many businesses to develop and grow in an area very close to one another.
“We created a huge industrial park in northern Colorado and were able to bring in 15 companies that created over 7500 jobs,” says Shuba. “We want that exact same success to come to Decatur and we believe that we can grow Decatur with a place like this.”
Gov. Rauner also appeared in the Shilling Center Auditorium and says he thinks the MIP is a big reason why Decatur can be a leader not just in Illinois, but all over the country.
“Today is about unleashing the incredible potential of the Illinois economy,” says Rauner. “Decatur is a bell cow for how Illinois prospers. Decatur can be, will be, and should be booming. We have every reason to thrive and we will be. That is what today is all about as the future is bright for Decatur.”
Luciano expanded on ADM’s plans and the reason they think the MIP is one of the best assets Decatur possesses.
“We are very proud of the investment we have made because we have expanded the capability of our container freight transportation,” says Luciano. “The amenities of the MIP has given us the ability to quickly and efficiently transport containers to each port for international shipment. This asset gives us the chance to help out other companies connect to open markets and create compelling reasons for more companies to locate here.”
Kevin Smithmier made the point that the MIP doesn’t only affect the transportation business, it could be an influence on all of the people and businesses of Decatur.
“I’ve been involved with countless efforts to make the city a better place in my 22 years with the hospital,” says Smithmier. “But when I saw the presentation on the plan for the Midwest Inland Port, I saw it wasn’t just a pipe dream, it was something that had the potential to make a major change in this community.”
Looking ahead, Ryan McCrady says the EDC hopes to entice new businesses to move to Decatur so we can have more jobs available. He says since Decatur already has all of the pieces in place to house big companies with the amenities of the MIP, the next step is to develop the relationships with new potential prospects.