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Legislator optimistic about port project in Alexander County


Friday, January 12, 2018  |  Article  |  Anna Gazette Democrat

Economic Development (35) , Rivers (23) Fowler, Dale--State Senate, 59
State Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg, said the start of a new year is bringing promising beginnings for development of a river port in Alexander County.

Fowler said he also began 2018 by preparing for the start of scheduled spring session, coordinating with local mayors throughout the 59th District to meet before lawmakers return to Springfield at the end of January and joining the students of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic School for their first day in their newly constructed school facility.

Fowler said that in an encouraging demonstration of support for the development of a port terminal in Alexander County, he had the honor of presenting the Alexander-Cairo Port District a $100,000 contribution from the Rauner Family Foundation to begin making headway on the port project.

The money will go toward soft costs for the project, which includes marketing costs and identifying companies that will benefit from the development of the river port terminal, Fowler said.

Fowler said he has been a vocal advocate of the port’s development, pushing for economic growth throughout the region and encouraging investors and businesses to see the potential of a port authority in Cairo.

Fowler said he is confident that Cairo’s location, at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, is ideally situated for the development of a successful river port and argues that Southern Illinois’ potential is worth the investment.

Underscoring the need for economic development in the region is Illinois’ continued decline in population, which has resulted in the state falling from the fifth most populous state in 2016 to the sixth in 2017, according to recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Fowler contends that the continued out-migration of Illinois residents highlights the importance of bringing opportunities, jobs and tourism to the state and the region through projects like the river port and the Sahara Woods off-highway vehicle park project announced late last year.

As the new year began, Fowler said he was gearing up for the start of a new spring legislative session.

Preparing for the return to the State House, Fowler said he is coordinating meetings with local mayors to get some final feedback on the needs, concerns and developments within the communities of the 59th District. Part of Union County is in the district.

Fowler also was invited to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic School in Herrin for the first day of classes in its new regional Catholic school facility.

Fowler joined a parade of students and administrators as they walked from the old campus to their newly constructed school building to begin their day in the classroom.

In other news, as cold weather continued to bear down throughout the state, Fowler echoed calls from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, IEMA, to “resolve to be prepared” in 2018.

As part of its initiative, IEMA and local emergency management agencies will be providing information about safety and preparedness topics each month throughout the year, including tips on winter weather readiness.