FEATURE STORY: Game-Changer In The Heartland
By Business Facilities Editorial Staff
From the September/October 2013 issue
The Economic Development Corporation of Decatur & Macon County (EDC) joined Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and the Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) recently to celebrate the opening of ADM’s new intermodal container freight shipping and receiving facility. The long anticipated Midwest Inland Port ramp will enable businesses to tap into the company’s deep transportation and logistics expertise and provide a platform for economic growth in central Illinois.
The people of ADM transform crops into products that serve vital needs. Today, 30,000 ADM employees around the globe convert oilseeds, corn, wheat and cocoa into products for food, animal feed, industrial and energy uses. With more than 265 processing plants, 460 crop procurement facilities, and the world’s premier crop transportation network, ADM helps connect the harvest to the home in more than 140 countries.
Located on 250 acres of land at ADM’s Decatur processing complex, the new intermodal ramp offers direct access to three Class I railroads and close proximity to four interstate highways and a major U.S. highway. For importers and exporters, this interchange supplies ready access to coastal and export markets. And for all clients, the location provides proximity to 95 million customers within a day’s drive. The facility itself has two high-capacity cranes that can handle 50,000 containers per year, with room to grow to 150,000.
“ADM’s new intermodal facility will offer businesses of every type the ability to access markets anywhere, at any time, and do so quickly and cost-effectively,” said Scott Fredericksen, president, ADM Transportation. “Our deep logistics experience, vast global transportation network and commitment to outstanding service can offer businesses in and around Central Illinois an unprecedented level of access and reach.” He added, “We are optimistic that businesses in our region will join us to help drive the economic growth this facility is capable of catalyzing.”
Intermodal containers can be loaded with virtually any type of product and are transported by truck, railcar and ship. Their flexibility and standard size have made them popular worldwide with an estimated 17 million intermodal containers in the world today. According to the American Association of Railroads, U.S. intermodal container freight volumes increased nearly 10 percent between 2010 and 2012.
The Midwest Inland Port provides an opportunity to ship inbound and outbound raw materials and products via rail containers anywhere in the United States and internationally in a more efficient and cost effective manner and serves as ground zero for logistics and distribution opportunities in Decatur and all of Central Illinois. It is served by Norfolk Southern, Canadian National and CSX railroads, and provides lower cost and efficient shipping options to the east, west and gulf coasts, bypassing the congestion of Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis.
Craig Coil, former President of the EDC, praised the vision of the intermodal concept. “We are very fortunate to have ADM as our leading employer and to be the home of its North American headquarters. They are constantly improving the global supply chain process and by creating this new facility, they have placed Decatur and all of Central Illinois at the forefront of the new 24 hour logistics and delivery models for raw material and product delivery.”
According to Coil, the new intermodal ramp, which capitalizes on ADM’s transportation and logistics expertise and the region’s prime rail and roadway access, is only the first step in the development of the Midwest Inland Port.
“The long term strategy for the Port is to integrate truck, rail and air cargo operations currently present in Decatur and Macon County, into a logistics and distribution hub for Central Illinois. We are in a unique position in that we have outstanding transportation oriented facilities and capabilities in close proximity to each other and can offer Central Illinois shippers coordinated services and potential cost savings which have never been possible before now,” said Coil.
Composed of a combination of leading private sector employers, educational institutions and a variety of governmental bodies, the EDC is positioned to address the expansion and retention needs of Macon County’s existing business and employer base along with prospective businesses looking in and around the Decatur area for the first time. In the last four years alone, the EDC has worked with local, state and federal partners to access nearly $20 million in assistance to local employers. The EDC also has facilitated projects which have resulted in the creation and/or retention of over 2,000 jobs and private sector capital investments approaching nearly $1 billion.
The EDC assisted in the development of the intermodal facility and rail yard by amending the boundaries of the Decatur Macon County Enterprise, providing an integrated program of state tax credits and exemptions to the company, and by facilitating the release of grant funds from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. EDC also recently formed the Midwest Inland Port LLC which will act as an information clearinghouse and marketing entity for the Midwest Inland Port.
“With strong support from our leaders in Springfield and Macon County, we’ve been able to get this project off the drawing board and into operation quickly. We look forward to seeing it reach its full potential, and to helping Illinois achieve its goal of doubling exports by 2014,” Fredericksen said.
Illinois is the largest exporting state in the Midwest and the fifth largest in the U.S. Exports from Illinois rose 5.1 percent to $68.1 billion in 2012 after soaring 30 percent in 2011. Direct exports account for nearly 10 percent of the Gross State Product.
In 2012, Gov. Quinn established the Illinois Export Advisory Council to work to increase exports by providing high-level recommendations on state and federal policies and programs. The Council consists of 21 top Illinois CEOs and private sector leaders that drive international trade for Illinois. Council members serve as international ambassadors for Illinois, showcasing the state’s competitiveness in the international marketplace.
DECATUR: BUSTLING WITH ACTIVITY
Situated 36 miles from Springfield, 120 miles from St. Louis, 165 miles from Indianapolis and 179 miles from Chicago, Decatur boasts a number of access outlets. It offers highway entry to I-72, U.S. 36 and U.S. 51, as well as a number of state routes; rail service via Norfolk Southern, Canadian National and CSX, along with short-line and piggy-back service; motor carriers; commercial bus service; and a world class airport facility capable of handling aircraft of all sizes. Decatur is also home to Foreign Trade Zone #245 and a U.S. Customs Point of Entry.
With nearly $600 million in capital investment planned or underway in the region, it is easy to see why more and more businesses are looking to Decatur for logistics, distribution and manufacturing projects. Combine this with a venture capital fund dedicated to businesses that locate in Decatur and Macon County, aggressive local and state economic development incentives, infrastructure and optimal location, and you have all of the ingredients for success.
Another benefit for businesses located in Decatur is the Decatur Enterprise Zone. It encompasses significant portions of the region’s industrial and business sections and offers a variety of state and local incentives for eligible projects in the zone—including local property tax abatement and sales tax exemptions on construction materials.
The EDC of Decatur & Macon County, IL, has great expectations for a large new rail-served logistics location being redeveloped in the region—the former Wagner Castings/Intermet foundry site in Decatur. The 32-acre Intermet foundry site is located along a major logistics corridor adjacent to the Norfolk Southern Railroad and only moments from I-72. A Class A logistics, rail-served distribution facility is planned for the site, allowing for construction of 360,000 square feet of warehouse distribution space along with 20+ acres of trailer.