State Reps Tour St. Joseph Port Authority

State Reps Tour St. Joseph Port Authority

A committee specializing in the development of state ports visits St. Joseph to learn what the city has to offer.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The tour begins in a board room at the St. Joseph Metro Chamber.

Brad Lau, Director of Business Development, leads a discussion that talks about just how big manufacturing is for St. Joseph - communicating to a group full of state legislator that St. Joseph isn't just "one of the little guys."

"I think there's a misconception by a lot of people who drive up I-29," Lau said.  "They see that exit at Frederick and see the gas station, but just don't know what we have: all the retail amenities, the quality of life amenities that we have."

Lau's main focus is the local port authority, which has seen some major and expensive developments in the past decade.

"[I'm talking about developments] like the truck staging and obviously our port facility that we have that has a Union Pacific rail spur and barge facilities," Lau said.

The port facility sits north up the river from the stockyards part of town.

State Representative Paul Wieland, a Republican from the 112th District in Jefferson County, is the chair for the newly formed Issues Development Committee for Missouri Ports.  He hasn't been to St. Joseph since the mid 1990s.

"In our state we have a river that runs right down the middle and rivers on both sides," Rep. Wieland said.  "It's a natural resource that we have that I feel (and other committee members feel) that we need to find ways to promote that growth and utilize that natural resource."
The natural resource here is the Missouri River. Wieland's visit is about learning what St. Joseph has to offer.

Lau makes note of the multimillion dollar corporations manufacturing in the South End of town.

"Every day in Jefferson City we talk about how we can create jobs and how we can create more economic activity for our citizens.  Ports are a way we can do that," Rep. Wieland said.

Rep. Wieland says he's on board with anything that increases barge traffic.

"One port barge takes 1,055 trucks off the highways.  We're always saying we have to keep maintaining these highways; that the trucks tear them up.  But if we can get more things shipped via barge, not only would it create jobs there but it saves the highways as well."

Rep. Wieland came with a few other members from his committee.

For the rest of the day they took a bus tour of St. Joseph that included several tours of manufacturing plants and a full tour of the port authority facility.

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