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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Announces $15.6 Million Grant to Restore St. Louis Port

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, December 18, 2009

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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Announces $15.6 Million Grant to Restore St. Louis Port

Investment will help region rebound from 2008 floods, creating jobs and strengthening local economy

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced today a $15.6 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to reconstruct the St. Louis Municipal Terminal’s South Dock, which was damaged by extensive flooding in 2008. Three local St. Louis businesses served by the port met with Locke and Mayor Francis Slay before a City Hall news conference this morning to discuss the impact of ensuring the continuation of the area’s supply chain of river-related commerce.

“The Obama Administration is committed to creating jobs, encouraging innovation and improving our nation’s economic competitiveness,” Locke said. “Reconstruction of the critically important South Dock saves existing jobs and creates new ones by strengthening local connections to the global marketplace and improving St. Louis’ standing as one of the nation’s most significant inland river ports.”

The 2008 floods and related high-water stress greatly damaged the South Dock, which handles two-thirds of the St. Louis Municipal River Terminal’s output. A recent study by the St. Louis Development Corporation found that the dock was at the end of its useful life, and if left unrepaired, would cost the port commodity market share, jobs and revenue. Structural integrity has deteriorated so significantly that a “blowout” failure is possible, which would cause injuries and immediately cripple area shipping. The study also indicated that a total collapse was possible in the next several years.

The St. Louis Municipal Terminal is part of a regional port system that serves barge shipping for St. Louis and other cities, and is the northernmost point on the Mississippi River with year-round, ice-free, open-water navigation. Port commodity shipping generates important revenue for the City of St. Louis, and employs residents of both Missouri and Illinois.

“St. Louis’s economic strength has always been tied to our ability to serve as a shipping hub,” U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo., a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said. “Whether by river, rail or road, St. Louis is a major gateway city for moving goods throughout America. This project will allow us to keep our competitive edge as a critical shipping hub as we work to retain and create jobs here in the region.”

"I want to personally thank President Obama and Secretary Locke for this grant which will have a huge impact on the Port of St. Louis,” U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-Mo., said. “EDA investments save existing jobs, create new jobs, and improve critical elements of our infrastructure. This is a big shot in the arm for St. Louis that will benefit our entire region."

EDA’s grant for the South Dock’s reconstruction will also begin the revitalization of the St. Louis’ port-related North Broadway industrial zone, enabling advancement into the emerging inter-modal container business and attracting new private investment and new businesses.

“St. Louis was founded, grew, and prospered because the Mississippi River is such a great transportation corridor,” Slay said. “This grant will allow us to improve our port, which will preserve jobs. It is also part of an overall strategy to expand international trade to and from St. Louis, which has the potential to create many more jobs.”

Congress authorized EDA to provide up to $500 million in grant support to local projects designed to help communities recover from natural disasters. The grant to repair the South Dock came from this authorization.

EDA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that partners with distressed communities throughout the United States to foster economic growth and job creation. Its mission is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, and preparing American regions for growth and success in the global economy.

Additional information on how EDA investments are helping distressed communities create a positive and sustainable economic future can be accessed at: www.eda.gov.