Ports & Terminals

Development Of Heartland Port Near Jefferson City, Mo., Moving Fast

Promoters of what’s now being called the Heartland Port on the Missouri River near Jefferson City, Mo., have been moving fast. It’s an ideally situated central location geared toward Missouri’s corn and soybean growers.

On May 15,, Missouri’s General Assembly voted 145–3 in favor of transferring 116 acres from the state to the Heartland Port Authority. The land transfer was celebrated on the site July 14 by mid-Missouri officials, after Gov. Mike Parsons signed the land-transfer bill in a private ceremony in his office. The land is situated between the Ike Skelton Training Center and the Algoa Correctional facility off of No More Victims Road on the east side of Jefferson City and the south bank of the Missouri River.

“We would like to thank the sponsors of this bill, Sen. [Mike] Bernskoetter, and Rep. Rudy Veit,” Heartland Port Authority Chairman Rick Mihalevich said.  “Without their hard work and perseverance, the passage of this legislation wouldn’t have happened.”

According to Roger Fischer, vice chairman of the Heartland Port, “This has been a long-term regional economic development project with Jefferson City, Cole and Callaway [counties] partnering to leverage resources. We started all working together on Project Port several years ago, but it wasn’t until [the] summer of 2018 that we made application to Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission and we were designated a port authority in September of 2018; that’s when it became real and the work became real, too!”

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Most recently, the port authority applied for and was awarded a $183,700 grant by the Missouri Agricultural Small Business Development Authority for a market study and business development plan. The port authority reached out to two partners, the Missouri Soybean Association and the Missouri Corn Growers Association, to help fund a portion of the study.

As part of the study, a conceptual structure and operational model was provided and based on a landlord port model concept. The Heartland Port could execute a concession agreement with an entity that would operate the port and pay a concession fee to the port authority.

The next step for the Heartland Port is to make use of a USDA-Rural Business Development Grant that was recently awarded to the port for conceptual design and environmental work. The $120,000 grant will be used for  preliminary planning purposes.  

Missy Bonnot, director of development for the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce, said, “As with any long-term project, you take one step at a time. It seems daunting if you think about all the elements that go into a project as large as the port such as infrastructure, environmental requirements, funding, staffing and did I mention funding?  We know that in order to be successful, federal and state funding sources will need to be leveraged with private dollars to make the port viable.”

It’s been estimated that it will take up to $75 million to fully develop the port.