Sinkler Joins Heart Of Illinois Regional Port District

The Heart of Illinois Regional Port District (branded as TransPORT) announced August 8 that Robert Sinkler, former commander of the Rock Island Engineer District, is joining the leadership team to serve as the water resources infrastructure director. In this role, Sinkler will help bring attention to the value of waterborne commerce on the Illinois Waterway to the national and global economies and help advance infrastructure investment in the Illinois River and watershed.

The Heart of Illinois Regional Port District was formed in 2003 and is the largest of the Illionois Waterway port districts. The district includes Peoria, Fulton, Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall and most of Mason counties. The port district’s strategic location offers a great logistical advantage to users of central Illinois’ multimodal transportation system. The Illinois River watershed includes 90 percent of the state’s population and nearly 50 percent of the state’s agricultural land.

The Heart of Illinois Regional Port District is one of three major port areas in the Quad Cities region that together make up the Corn Belt Ports. The other two are the Mid-America Port Commission and the Mississippi River Ports of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. Sinkler has been working for years to have the Corn Belt Ports recognized as statistical port districts.

“Robert Sinkler brings over a decade of water resources expertise and experience to our team that will enable us to accelerate improvements in both our natural and man-made infrastructure in central Illinois and throughout the heart of the corn belt,” said Dan Silverthorn, chairman of the Heart of Illinois Regional Port District board. “His broad and impressive water resources background makes him uniquely qualified to serve as our water resources infrastructure director at this time in TransPORT’s history.”

During Sinkler’s career in the Corps of Engineers, he oversaw some of the nation’s largest water resources programs and projects in both coastal and riverine environments. He has served as water resources infrastructure director for The Nature Conservancy’s North America Water Program, and vice resident for technology and commercialization in the Environment Sector at INTREXON.

He is currently the chief operating officer for Streamside Systems Inc., a company focused on raising the grade of large watersheds in everything from water quality and ag nutrient management to tackling sedimentation to algae control. He currently serves on the board of America’s Watershed Initiative and on Caterpillar’s Natural Infrastructure Initiative Steering Committee.
Sinkler said his initial priorities include:

1) establishing the Illinois Waterway (which in total handles over 34 million tons of freight annually) as a U.S. Port Statistical Area by the U.S. Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center;

2) getting Global Trade Magazine to recognize the Illinois Waterway as a “Top 50 U.S. Power Port” in their annual port rankings; and

3) ensuring that the ports in the tri-state (Illinois, Missouri and Iowa) area above Locks and Dam 26 in the heart of the Corn Belt are collectively recognized as the equivalent of the largest inland port in the nation, at more than 47 million tons of freight handled annually.