Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker made several stops in southern Illinois on Tuesday. One of those stops was in Cairo, where the governor announced the state will provide $40 million through the Rebuild Illinois capital plan for a port at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.
Cairo has been working on the port development for eight years. Now, the community is one step closer to making the project a reality. The port project is expected to create at least 500 jobs and bring in more than $100 million in economic activity.
The development will be one of the largest investments in southern Illinois in decades. Leaders hope the project will make Cairo a national hub for the shipping industry.
“This port project has the potential to represent the very best of our state’s future. This is more than just a port. It’s fuel for new jobs and economic prosperity all across the region. A region that’s been left out and left behind for far too long,” said Pritzker.
* The Southern…
Pritzker and State Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg, said there were real dollars coming with Tuesdays announcement. Fowler remarked that the port project is a real line item in the state’s recently-passed capitol bill, which allots funds for various development and improvement projects throughout the state.
Immediately, the state will give $4 million in grants for the project, but a total of $40 million has been allocated to fund the design and development of a river port that has been in the works for nearly a decade. This is about $35 million short of the $75 million that was hoped for, but, as previously reported by The Southern, the rest will be leveraged by private investors. […]
[Pritzker] added that 80% of the country’s river traffic passes by Cairo every day, making it an ideal shipping and transportation hub.
Fowler, since being elected to his seat in 2016, has taken Cairo’s revitalization as a personal project. He has said on more than one occasion, Tuesday included, that the port will be a shot in the arm not just to the city but for the region. A total of 500 direct jobs will be generated when the project is complete, Fowler and Pritzker said Tuesday.
Sen. Fowler deserves so much credit for pushing this project forward. While the concept predates his legislative service, he’s turning it into a reality. He’s a throwback to a time when southern Illinois politicians worked hard to bring things back to their districts. And Cairo isn’t exactly Republican turf. Good for him.