Big plans scheduled for the capital city.

There are many people in our community who I think qualify as Ones to Watch recipients. Numerous people in Jefferson City are working on innovations and improvements or helping to preserve our history and heritage. However, when I think of a one to watch, I think of Jefferson City itself. While we’re already the seat of government and the home of industry and commerce, our city is poised to become an important shipping hub in the very near future. 

For the past few years, we’ve been working on bringing new transportation facilities to the area. The city of Jefferson, along with the counties of Cole and Callaway, were given approval to create the Heartland Port Authority of Central Missouri in 2018. The Port Authority became its own political subdivision and began engaging local stakeholders in the work of bringing a port to Jefferson City. In 2020, Rep. Rudy Veit and I sponsored House Bill 1330, which granted land to the Port Authority for the location of a port on the east side of town. That bill was signed by Gov. Mike Parson, and work is now underway to begin the process of construction. When finished, it will be the only Missouri River port between Boonville and the Mississippi River. 

Jefferson City has also received funding for the construction of a multimodal facility near the future port. This facility will create a rail spur and rail sidings that will allow trucks to load goods for rail transport, which will greatly reduce the shipping costs for manufacturers and farmers in the area. The multimodal facility required 16 months of groundwork by Jefferson City, Cole County, and the state of Missouri. The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization has also been working on a long-range plan for several years, and the multimodal facility will meet many of the goals we have for businesses here in Jefferson City. The U.S. Department of Commerce bestowed a grant of $1.5 million for the facility in August of 2022; the rest of the project is being funded through local matching funds and state appropriations. This includes an $880,000 grant to the project by the Missouri Department of Transportation. The facility will be located in the Algoa Industrial Park, home of several of the area’s largest industrial and manufacturing entities. Groundbreaking for the new multimodal facility happened in May of this year, and the project is estimated to be operational by the middle of 2024. 

Why does this make Jefferson City one to watch in the upcoming years? New shipping facilities could bring a large economic benefit by allowing goods to be shipped to and from the area by rail, river, and highway. Access to a port will allow farmers to ship their produce and livestock with cheaper, more efficient methods. Direct access to rail will also allow our industrial businesses to ship products faster and more easily. These improvements have the potential to make Jefferson City a shipping hub for a large area of this state — bringing jobs, infrastructure, and investment to the area. The future is exciting!

Sen. Mike Berskoetter and Gov. Mike Parson at the signing of House Bill 1330 in 2020.