Heartland Port Authority Project – Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce, Missouri

The Heartland Port Authority of Central Missouri was created on 2018 in a proactive effort to promote economic development and marine transportation infrastructure in central Missouri. As part of these efforts, the Heartland Port Project involves the development of a greenfield public port in the Jefferson City area, located at the intersection of Callaway and Cole counties. Greenfield projects involve an inherent level of uncertainty that require the identification and mitigation of potential risks. To assist the Heartland Port Authority better understand the financial viability of this project, Decision Innovation Solutions worked with Mercator International to research, analyze and develop a comprehensive market study and a preliminary assessment of the financial feasibility of the Project. 

Check out the full report here.

Some of the key findings of the report developed by DIS and Mercator are: 

  • 42% of potential users of the port facility expressed significant interest in using the facility once operational.
  • The port has the potential to ship more than 2.1 million metric tons of soybeans to export markets annually. 
  • Containerized cargo and breakbulk cargo have the potential to be a major service of the port. 

The Heartland Port Project is located in Jefferson City along the Missouri River and enjoys fast and efficient access to Missouri’s most important freight arteries in all relevant modes (i.e. truck, rail, and waterways). While truck and rail are the predominant modes of freight transportation in Missouri, levels of service on the state freight network are exhibiting signs of congestion and poor freight fluidity. These conditions make the barge alternative, which is more environmentally friendly than both truck and rail, and more attractive for the potential markets in the study area. The study area was defined as the 24-counties located within an 80-mile radius from Jefferson City. 

As part of the comprehensive market study for the report, a survey was conducted of potential users of a port facility in Jefferson City. Respondents were asked to estimate current annual shipments and annual receipts for the business. The data from these responses was used in conjunction with other industry sources to estimate the potential cargo traffic for the proposed port facility.  

Overall, the Heartland Port Authority will continue to work with state and regional economic development agencies to develop a targeted plan to attract businesses to the port, while at the same time procuring funding assistance. This will be crucial for the successful development of the project. Once funding assistance is secured, the attractiveness of this project for a private investor can be expected to increase substantially, and the odds for the structuring and implementation of a successful public/private partnership for this project will consequently increase as well. 

Since completing the HPA project, DIS, Mercator International and two other partners have been awarded a somewhat similar project “up the river” for an existing port exploring the option of adding a container-on-barge. Also exciting work, we expect to have this project completed in Fall 2020. 

To keep up to date with future project details, visit the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce Webpage here and like their page on Facebook.