70-Mile Hwy 70’s Corridor Linking Missouri & Illinois is Epicenter of Industrial Market Growth in the St. Louis Region


A 70-mile transportation corridor is the epicenter of the historic surge in new construction in the St. Louis regional industrial market. More than 24 million square feet of new industrial space hit the market over the last five years, and nowhere is this construction boom more evident than along the Interstate 70 corridor running from Foristell, Missouri to Marine, Illinois. The major logistics corridor is home to a wealth of national manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors, with room to develop even more. The activity in the corridor and anticipated direction of future growth was the focus of the final session of FreightWeekSTL 2023 on May 26, which was moderated by Doug Rasmussen, CEO and Managing Principal of Steadfast City Economic & Community Partners, and featured panelists Ed Lampitt, Vice Chair of Cushman & Wakefield, and Matt Hrubes, Senior Vice President of CBRE.

Steadfast City recently completed in-depth research on the 70s corridor, which includes Interstate 70 and portions of Interstates 170, 270 and 370. Regarding this corridor, Rasmussen noted that in 2022, eight million square feet of new space was delivered and about six and a half million square feet was absorbed. The top six leases in the market in 2022, which represented about 2.4 million square feet, were all signed with companies in this 70-mile corridor. He noted that Procter & Gamble was at two million square feet, Unilever at 1.7 million square feet, and Walgreens with a half million square feet, and the corridor also recently attracted other companies that are new to the market, including Tesla. Overall, the corridor is home to about 30 companies that each occupy more than a half million square feet, and there are approximately one billion dollars of infrastructure improvements underway or planned along the corridor.

“What I like to say as a site selector, is it’s basically 70 miles of beachfront property,” said Rasmussen.

Lampitt said it is noteworthy that 85% of all institutional product in the St. Louis area is along the 70s corridor and agreed that it is where they are seeing the bulk of regional industrial activity. In discussing recent trends in the corridor, he said one of the biggest, especially in 2022, was the shift from e-commerce and 3PL tenants to manufacturing tenants. He clarified it was still a lot of distribution space being leased, but it was being leased by manufacturing companies.

“Also, we continue to see service deliveries continue to go up, meaning they have to be closer to their customers. We’ve seen a significant increase of new tenants, new users to St. Louis,” said Lampitt. “We used to quote that 17% of all deals were new to St. Louis, meaning they didn’t have a presence here. That’s doubled. It’s in the 30, 30-plus percent range.”

Those trends are reflected in the diversity of the deals being done in the 70s corridor, from spaces of 200,000 sq. ft. or less being snapped up by companies that want to be closer to rooftops for their distribution, to the new 800,000 square foot manufacturing facility being built by American Foods Group in Warren County, Missouri.

Hrubes talked about the changes he has seen related to tax abatements and the impact that has had on the market and along the 70s corridor, as the types of tax abatements that originated on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River many years ago and drove industrial development there, have made their way into Missouri.

“That’s what really spearheaded a lot of that development along Highway 70, especially in the Hazelwood market,” Hrubes said, pointing to developments such as Hazelwood Logistics Park and Hazelwood TradePort, both developed by NorthPoint, the old Ford plant that Panattoni redeveloped and the former Mills Outlet Mall that is now being converted into industrial space after receiving an almost 20-year tax abatement. “Without those kinds of economic incentives, who knows where we’d be. That was really a driving force, I think, that added to the success of those developments.”

Hrubes said,  “in the Southwestern Illinois market, it used to be a 10-year sliding scale tax abatement, and now on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River, the industry is seeing 18 or even 20 years of tax abatement being offered and the same thing occurring in St. Charles County, where other types of incentives, such as Chapter 100s, are adding to the success of developments such as the Premier 370 Business Park.”

“Finally we’re able to compete and challenge other states. If it’s a multi-city search, St. Louis now looks a lot better compared to where it used to be just five to 10 years ago,” Hrubes said.

The labor pool was discussed, with Lampitt highlighting that retaining workers is as important as finding them, while Hrubes said the areas attracting industrial investment along the 70s corridor are the ripe areas for the types of workers needed. He said one of the first things a lot of companies do when exploring different site locations is to check the box on the labor study.

“If they can see that there’s a readily available workforce, whether it’s a skilled workforce or a warehouse workforce, they need to have those things in place before they decide to either lease space or build property in those locations,” Hrubes said.

The demand for labor is what Hrubes said will continue to drive development further west along the 70s corridor, where there’s not only a good existing labor pool in St. Charles County, but also the potential to draw from nearby Lincoln, Franklin and Warren counties. Rasmussen said he also expects further growth on the eastern edge of the 70s corridor as companies have the ability to draw workers from nearby Bond and Clinton Counties in Illinois.

Lampitt highlighted that some of the significant growth in recent years has been internal growth, with existing companies expanding their presence in the bi-state region, underscoring the need to make sure developers are taking care of the companies already invested here.  He cited as examples, Procter&  Gamble, which started with 800,000 square feet and now has three million, and Worldwide Technology, which started with 200,000 square feet in 2005 and now is at 3.6 million.

Looking forward, Rasmussen called attention to the fact that industry experts are estimating there may be about three million square feet of space coming back on the market as second generation space, and speculated if that might be a cause for concern. Both panelists said they saw that as a plus for the region at this time, given the historically low vacancy rates and the need to have flexible product offerings to meet market demands. Hrubes said that just three of four deals would be all it would take to absorb the entire amount of second generation space by the end of the year.

“I actually think that there needs to be more spec built right now; there’s not enough product out there,” said Hrubes. “To Ed’s point about the vacancy rate, it’s probably too low. And I think that we need more space because you get below 6% to 8% vacancy rate, it’s time to build. If you don’t have it, then you’re not going to see the activity.”

The need to have available product was further highlighted by Rasmussen, Hrubes, and Lampit, who talked about Tesla’s decision to locate its newest Midwest facility in the St. Louis region. The company was initially targeting the Kansas City market, but couldn’t find the 700,000 square feet of space it needed there. Tesla found exactly what they needed at Gateway TradePort, a planned industrial park in Pontoon Beach, Illinois, which is one of the newest industrial parks in the 70s corridor. Hrubes said that infrastructure investment has been key to spurring development all along the 70s corridor.

“Before Highway 370 was developed, that land was worthless, you know, it was just farm ground and floodplain, and then, all of a sudden, 370 comes along. Now look at all the industrial development that’s been spurred along there,” said Hrubes. “Then comes the Page Extension Bridge. Now look at all the development that’s going on along 141 and the improvements that were done there, to actually have a connector that goes all the way from South County to North County through ground zero for our industrial real estate sector, which is Earth City. And you follow 141, there’s probably a lot of decision makers that live in that zip code. It just makes sense. When you add that infrastructure and you invest dollars in it, it opens up other opportunities for development that makes a lot of sense to a lot of people.”

Rasmussen asked the panelists if they were seeing any reshoring activity along the 70s corridor. Hrubes pointed to the General Motors (GM) plant in Wentzville, which is likely the largest manufacturer in the bi-state St. Louis region, noting that GM master leased a supplier warehouse.  “I think when you have large scale manufacturing like that, then it does increase the demand for suppliers to that company or that facility,” said Hrubes. “They all need to locate close to there, obviously, because the transportation cost to get those items, on demand, on time is significant. So yes, you can call it onshoring. I think it’s been happening here for years, and I think that it will just continue to ramp up.

Panel session host Mary Lamie said, “We appreciate you providing some great insight that will be helpful as the Freightway continues to promote the 70s corridor and its incredible concentration of industrial warehousing and distribution operations that make it a prime location for existing businesses and future industrial site selection and economic growth.” Lamie is the Executive Vice President of Multi Modal Enterprises for Bi-State Development, which operates the St. Louis Regional Freightway as one of its enterprises.

To view the 70 on 70 panel session, visit It was the final event of FreightWeekSTL 2023 which featured a variety of virtual panel sessions with industry experts and leaders in freight, logistics and transportation. The week-long freight and logistics expo was presented by the St. Louis Regional Freightway and Bi-State Development. To learn more or watch earlier sessions for FreightWeekSTL 2023, visit

About St. Louis Regional Freightway  

A Bi-State Development enterprise, the St. Louis Regional Freightway is a regional freight district and comprehensive authority for freight operations and opportunities within eight counties in southwestern Illinois and eastern Missouri, which comprise the St. Louis metropolitan area. Public sector and private industry businesses are partnering with the St. Louis Regional Freightway to establish the bi-state region as one of the premier multimodal freight hubs and distribution centers in the United States through marketing and advocacy for infrastructure development that supports the movement of freight. To learn more, visit

ABI Slips in April; Construction Wages in 2022 Outpaced Other Industries


Submitted by the AGC.

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) registered a score of 48.5, seasonally adjusted in April, down from 50.4 in March and the sixth reading in the past seven months below 50, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported on Wednesday. Any score below 50 means more firms reported decreased billings than increased billings. The ABI is derived from the share of responding architecture firms that report a gain in billings over the previous month less the share reporting a decline in billings, presented on a 0-to-100 scale. AIA calls the index “a leading economic indicator that leads nonresidential construction activity by approximately 9-12 months.” Readings for practice specialties (based on three-month averages) varied: mixed practice, 52.1 (down from 53.5 in March); commercial/industrial, 51.8 (up from 49.7 and the first reading above 50 since July); institutional, 50.6 (first reading above 50 since October, up from 49.1); and residential (mainly multifamily), 41.5 (below 50 since July, down from 42.3). The new design contracts index rose to 49.8 from 48.9.

The average weekly wage for all construction industry employees in the U.S. was $1544 in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2022, an increase of 1.2% from Q4 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Wednesday in its Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages report. Construction industry average wages in Q4 2022 were 11.4% higher than the private sector average of $1385 (which declined 2.6% from Q4 2021). The amount and direction of change for average weekly wages in construction varied widely. Among the 10 largest counties, the highest average in Q4 2022 was in New York County (Manhattan), $2566, up 2.4% from Q4 2021; followed by Cook County, Ill. (Chicago and nearby suburbs), $1916, up 3.5% year-over-year (y/y); and King County, Wash. (Seattle and nearby suburbs), $1810, down 1.6%. The largest y/y increase was in Los Angeles County, 3.6% (Q4 2022 average: $1658), followed by Cook County. The average wage declined 1.7% in King County and 1.6% in Dallas County (Dallas and nearby suburbs, Q4 2022 average: $1701).

Data centers are replacing offices and other structures in some markets. In Loudoun County, Va., Amazon World Services plans to demolish nine buildings and replace them with four purpose-built data centers, the Washington Business Journal reported on May 22. Data Center Frontier on Thursday cited other examples in Loudoun County. Digital Realty proposed replacing a “1960s parking garage [in downtown Los Angeles] with “a 13-story building which would include nearly 486,000 square feet of floor area, most of which would be dedicated to computer servers and supporting equipment,” the e-newsletter Urbanize LA reported on May 23. “A former department store located to the north on 7th Street currently functions as a data center, as does the One Wilshire high-rise….Likewise, the former Post Office Annex near Union Station has been converted into a data center, and a newly built facility recently replaced a surface parking lot next door.” 

“A growing number of retailers in city office districts are relocating their businesses to the suburbs, where visits to shopping centers are on the rise as fewer people commute to downtown workplaces,” the Wall Street Journal reported on May 9. “Suburban landlords say demand from retailers was strong during the first months of this year, even with high inflation and rising interest rates. Shopping-center owner Site Centers reported record-high leasing in the first quarter, while owner Phillips Edison reported a new high for occupancy. Retail Opportunity Investments Corp. said its portfolio is more than 98% leased. Even high-end enclosed malls, which were hard hit by the pandemic, are showing signs of improvement. Foot traffic at Simon Property Group’s malls is higher this year compared with 2022 while overall occupancy was 94.4% in the first quarter, just shy of pre-pandemic levels, according to the company.”

It “appears in domestic migration data that, years after lower-wage residents have been priced out of expensive coastal metros, higher-paid workers are now turning away from them, too,” the “Upshot” column of the New York Times reported on May 12. “The college-educated workers who’ve turned away from them are increasingly migrating toward major metros that are still prosperous but not quite so expensive—places like Phoenix, Atlanta, Houston and Tampa. During the pandemic, smaller cities such as Portland, Maine, and Wilmington, N.C., also saw growing inflows of such workers…. Among the 12 most expensive metros, net college migration has generally declined or turned negative. The other 41 large metros have mostly continued to attract working-age college graduates.” A chart shows net migration into or out of each metro’s college-educated population in 2010-14, 2015-19, and 2020-21.

USDA Groundbreaking in Normandy, MO


USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. J. Emilio Esteban, GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan, USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator Paul Kiecker, and City of Normandy Mayor Mark Beckmann today celebrated the groundbreaking for the new home of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service Midwestern Laboratory in Normandy, Missouri.

The state-of-the-art facility will both incorporate and support science and technology to address present and future public health challenges. This facility will also support a deeper commitment to sustainability to help minimize environmental impact from construction to operation while ensuring efficiencies that save taxpayer dollars. 

Consistent with GSA’s mission to acquire space on behalf of other government agencies, GSA signed a lease with US Federal Properties for a term of 20 years and a total contract value of $115,540,000. US Federal Properties has hired McCarthy Building Companies based in Des Peres, Missouri, to serve as the General Contractor.

“Our labs are crucial to the work we do in protecting the U.S. food supply and exports touching every corner of the world,” said Dr. J. Emilio Esteban, USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety. “This new facility will allow the FSIS Midwestern Lab to incorporate advancements in science and technology to meet present and future challenges in food safety and public health.”

“At GSA, we want all federal spaces to empower employees to do their best work, bolster the missions of agencies like USDA, and support the local community,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. “This partnership with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the community of Normandy is going to help ensure that federal employees have a safe, state-of-the-art, and sustainable facility where they can continue to provide great service to the American people.” 

“This is the first FSIS laboratory construction in recent years where we have been able to participate in the top-to-bottom design process to specifically meet our needs,” said Paul Kiecker, Administrator of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. “This new facility will advance FSIS’ operational excellence, increase our overall efficiency because of our close proximity to a major airport, and enable us to recruit the next generation of talented employees from St. Louis colleges and universities.”

The building is currently under design. Construction site preparation work will start this summer with site and civil work completed in the fall and building construction in 2024 and 2025. 

GSA provides centralized procurement and shared services for the federal government, managing a nationwide real estate portfolio of nearly 370 million rentable square feet, overseeing approximately $75 billion in annual contracts, and delivering technology services that serve millions of people across dozens of federal agencies. GSA’s mission is to deliver the best customer experience and value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to the government and the American people. 

The Food Safety and Inspection Service is the public health regulatory agency within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) responsible for ensuring that domestic and imported meat, poultry, and egg products are safe, wholesome, and properly labeled.

Home Builders Association Donates $19,074 to St. Peters Senior Village


On behalf of the Home Builders Charitable Foundation (HBCF), 2023 HBA President Jeremy Roth (Elite Development Services/McBride Homes) (left) presented a $19,074 donation to St. Peters Senior Village advancement chairperson Frances Kern.

The donation will be used to replace aging sidewalks and curbs that have become tripping hazards at St. Peters Senior Village, an independent living facility which offers a homelike community of 52 apartments. St. Peters Senior Village was established in 1973 to offer fair and affordable housing for low-income senior citizens.

The HBA is a local trade association of nearly 600 member firms representing the residential construction industry. The Home Builders Charitable Foundation, the HBA’s charitable arm, is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing housing assistance to people or organizations with special shelter needs.

Construction Jobs Increase from Year Ago in 42 States


Submitted by Schmersahl Treloar & Co

Seasonally adjusted construction employment rose from April 2022 to April 2023 in 42 states and the District of Columbia, declined in seven states, and held steady in Hawaii, according to AGC’s analysis of data BLS posted on Friday. Texas added the most (28,000 jobs, 3.6%), followed by New York (13,400, 3.5%), Indiana (11,200, 7.3%), and Florida (8,600, 1.4%). Arkansas had the largest percentage increase (9.8%, 5,500 jobs), followed by Rhode Island (7.6%, 1,600), Indiana, and Nebraska (6.8%, 3,900). California lost the most jobs (-5,100 jobs, -0.6%), followed by Connecticut (-1,900 jobs, -3.1%), and West Virginia (-1,200 jobs, -3.7%). West Virginia had the largest percentage loss, followed by Connecticut and Alaska (-2.5%, -400 jobs). For the month, construction employment increased in 24 states and D.C. and declined in 26 states. Washington added the most jobs over the month (4,300 jobs, 1.8%), followed by Illinois (2,700, 1.2%), Wisconsin (2,600, 2.0%), and California (2,100, 0.2%). The largest percentage gain occurred in South Dakota (2.7%, 700 jobs), followed by Wisconsin, Washington, and Arkansas (1.8%, 1,100 jobs).  Texas lost the most construction jobs in April (-8,500 jobs, -1.1%), followed by New York (-4,000, -1.0%). Alaska had the largest percentage loss for the month (-4.2%, -700 jobs), followed by Rhode Island (-3.4%, -800). (For D.C., Delaware, and Hawaii, which have few mining or logging jobs, BLS posts combined totals with construction; AGC treats the changes as all from construction.) 

Two reports on construction starts show similar overall trends but differ on details regarding the first four months of 2023 compared January-April 2022. Total construction starts in current dollars (i.e., not inflation-adjusted) declined 4%, seasonally adjusted, from March to April and 7% year-to-date, Dodge Construction Network reported on Thursday. Year-to-date residential starts plummeted 27%, with single-family down 34% and multifamily down 10%. Nonresidential building starts rose 7% year-to-date, with institutional starts up 14%, manufacturing starts up 4%, and commercial starts up 2%. Nonbuilding starts increased 16% year-to-date, with utility/gas plants up 37%, miscellaneous nonbuilding starts up 36%, environmental public works up 10%, and highway and bridge starts up 9%.

The value of construction starts in current dollars decreased 5.7% year-to-date, data firm ConstructConnect reported on Friday. Residential starts plunged 32%, with single-family down 33% and apartments down 31%. Nonresidential building starts leaped 40%, with the largest component—institutional starts—up 18%, industrial (manufacturing) starts up 27%, and commercial starts down 10%. Engineering (civil) starts jumped 27%, with increases for all segments: roads, 25%; water/sewage, 23%; power and miscellaneous civil, 40%; bridges, 1.3%; dams/marine, 102%; and airports, 89%. 

Housing starts (units) in April increased 2.2% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate from the March  rate but tumbled 22% year-over-year (y/y), the Census Bureau reported on Wednesday. Single-family starts rose 1.6% for the month but fell 28% y/y. Multifamily (five or more units) starts climbed 5.2% for the month to an annual rate of 542,000 units but slipped 2.2% y/y. Residential permits declined 1.5% for the month and 21% y/y. Single-family permits increased for the third-straight month, by 3.1% from March to the highest annual rate since September, suggesting starts may soon recover. Multifamily permits sank 9.7% from March to an annual rate of 502,000, down 23% y/y. While an annual rate of 959,000 multifamily units were under construction, the declining y/y trends in starts and permits suggest spending may soon shrink.

Multifamily homebuilders are equally split between those reporting current conditions are good or poor, according to the redesigned Multifamily Production Index that the National Association of Home Builders released on Thursday. “The index and all its components are scaled so that a number above 50 indicates that more respondents report conditions are good than report conditions are poor. For the first quarter, the component measuring garden/low-rise units had a reading of 57;” mid/high-rise units, 41; subsidized units, 51; and built-for-sale units, 42.

“Fort Worth, Texas, the third largest-gaining city [in population increase] since 2018, ranked first in 2022 with a numeric increase of 19,170 from 2021,” followed by Phoenix, San Antonio, Seattle, and Charlotte, Census reported on Thursday. “San Antonio and Georgetown, Texas; Phoenix…; and Port St. Lucie and Cape Coral, Florida, showed notably larger increases in 2022 than in 2021—possible signs of population rebound. The “rate of population losses from 2021 to 2022…were more in line with pre-pandemic patterns…For instance, Jackson, Mississippi, with the largest percentage (2.5%) drop [in 2022], would have made the list of fastest-declining cities in 2019 but not in 2021.”

Growing Importance of Inland Ports Fuels Multi-Million Dollar Investments at Four Ports in St. Louis Region


Investments underway or planned at four ports in the St. Louis area are supported by an influx of federal and state funding that underscores the growing importance of inland ports in the global supply chain. The investments have the bi-state region poised to support continued growth in traditional barge services and intermodal operations, while helping to prepare for the arrival of new Container-on-Vessel service in the Midwest. These multi-million dollar investments in facilities and infrastructure and the funding secured for these projects were the focus of the May 23rd FreightWeekSTL 2023 virtual panel session, which featured panelists from America’s Central Port, St. Louis Development Corporation, Kaskaskia Regional Port District and Jefferson County Port Authority.

America’s Central Port anchors a 1,200-acre multi modal business and industrial site in Granite City, Ill., where a series of infrastructure investments are underway. Built in the 1940s as a military base, the site has been converted into one of the largest freight hubs in the Midwest, with access to six Class-I railroads and two multi modal harbors that bring in more than 3 million tons of product by barge each year. The site is home to more than 75 manufacturers and freight intensive operators that collectively employ an estimated 1,000 workers, and offers 2.1 million square feet of warehouse space, 70,000 square feet of office space and 150 apartments.

According to America’s Central Port Executive Director Dennis Wilmsmeyer, the original roads leading into the property were not built to handle the weight of trucks today. To remedy that, a new full-depth concrete road along Fourth Street was recently constructed, nearly completing the circulation corridor around the port’s main industrial park. Construction on a new street – partially funded through a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDO T) – is about to get underway. This new street will replace the old First Street and it will create a sixth entrance into the port from Illinois Route 3 that will support truck movement. IDOT is also partially funding construction of a new West 7th Street Road, which will complete the loop at the main industrial park. These investments come of the heels of a recently completed upgrade of the Bissell Street Rail Crossing.

America’s Central Port will also soon start on a $3 million rehabilitation of a 1940s era, 50,000 square-foot building that was originally used as a locomotive repair shop for the U.S. Army and is now being upgraded for manufacturing purposes. As part of a $15.8 million U.S. Department of Transportation BUILD grant secured for America’s Central Port back in 2020, other upgrades coming to the port include 2,050 linear feet of new railroad track, a new product receiving belt system from barge to rail, barge loading system replacement, rail car load-out upgrades, multi modal transfer equipment modernization and safety upgrades. Grants were also recently secured for a truck calling and staging center, and expansion of the cargo dock at the Granite City Harbor.

“All this funding that’s been coming for our port facilities has just been tremendous, and I just can’t thank enough those who are now realizing the importance of ports throughout the country,” said Wilmsmeyer. “The Port District, like many other ports in the region and throughout the country, are economic development generators. We are here for the purpose of creating jobs, and we do that through a lot of investment in our property that tries to attract companies.”

The City of St. Louis Port Authority, located in downtown St. Louis, comprises about 10,000 acres along 19-plus miles of riverfront on the Mississippi River and moves 15 to 18 million tons of cargo a year.  A landlord port, it has approximately 40 leases with shippers and carriers and fleeting operators up and down the river, and its main terminal is the Municipal River Terminal (MRT), located about a mile and a half north of the Gateway Arch and operated by SCF Lewis and Clark Terminals. The 40-acre site has a 2,000-foot dock that can hold 250-ton crane loads and features 67 fleeting berths, 250,000 square feet of warehouse space, and direct rail service.

The Port Authority has invested about $10 million in the Municipal River Terminal over the past couple years. Recent additions include a rail river conveyor system and direct rail access into the yard, and portions of the yard are currently being paved. SCF recently secured a grant for unitized cargo equipment to get unit train capability at the terminal. As part of a $9 million BUILD grant secured through SCF, 7,350 linear feet of new railroad track will be added, and that is expected to drive more rail traffic to the facility.

Susan Taylor, Port Authority Director for the St. Louis Development Corporation, also talked about other investments occurring. “We’re trying to develop a new rail and river terminal on our south riverfront and have secured a $5.76 million ARPA grant towards that,” Taylor said. “We’re talking to a new lessee about a potential liquid fertilizer dock on our north riverfront, and we plan on issuing some RFPs soon for fleeting. There’s also a developer interested in a large $1.2 billion project, just south of the MacArthur Bridge, and it will focus on manufacturing and, hopefully, container on vessels shipping of the manufactured goods.”

Taylor also highlighted the benefits of doing business with the City of St. Louis Port Authority located in the Ag Coast of America. “I think it’s important for people to realize that we are by far the busiest inland port,” she said. “We have approximately 130 facilities in our harbor on both sides of the river. We just have so many different options, and we have ultimate flexibility and last mile in and out options for people.”

As a political subdivision of the state, the Port Authority also can offer major investment incentives. In 2018, it issued $15 million in bonds to an agricultural entity on the south riverfront to help propel its $37 million expansion. In 2019, $8.75 million in bonds was issued to a scrap company to buy and relocate a shredder on the north riverfront, enabling the company to consolidate operations and to expand. Taylor also highlighted the Port Authority’s ability to create port improvement districts, sharing it is in the process of creating one for the new soccer stadium in downtown St. Louis, which encountered some unexpected groundwater pollution. The port improvement district will help generate funds to address that issue.

Located just 30 miles south of St. Louis, the Kaskaskia Regional Port District encompasses Monroe, Randolph and St. Clair counties in Illinois and, by tonnage, is the 15th largest inland port in the country. The Port District has four port locations on the Kaskaskia River and one on the Mississippi River. Kaskaskia Regional Port District General Manager Ed Weilbacher talked about the investments being made his terminals, starting with Kaskaskia Regional Port District Terminal 1, operated by Kaskaskia River Terminals and located just outside of New Athens, Ill. The site was originally an outbound coal facility that was repurposed into an inbound offloading facility that ships scrubber stone about 15 years ago. Recently, the site has been producing waste products like gypsum and fly ash that have marketability, and the terminal will undergo $20 million in upgrades to ship 2 million tons of product outbound while simultaneously maintaining the inbound cargo movement. The upgrades include a second rail loop, a new rail yard at the terminal, and updates to the rail corridor that runs from the terminal to Lenzburg, Ill.

Investments are also being made at Kaskaskia Regional Port District Terminal 2, a multi modal river, rail and road facility for steel, general cargo and bulk products located in Baldwin, Ill., along the Kaskaskia River. Approximately $2.7 million in grants were secured from IDOT for a new conveyor to move fertilizer from the dock to an expansion that is taking place at tenant Gateway FS, with the goal of increasing fertilizer throughput at that location. The facility also received a recent freight grant to double track the rail underneath the overhead crane, which will reduce congestion and improve safety at that location, priming the facility for future growth. Grant applications for $14 million were recently submitted for a new south dock at Kaskaskia Regional Port District Terminal 2, and the Port also applied for a $1.3 million U.S. Marine Highway grant for a series of shuttle cars that will allow for the movement of coiled steel through the terminal to keep pace with the increase in coiled steel at this location. The Kaskaskia Regional Port District is also seeking $3 million in grant funding for the addition of a second entrance road to the terminal and a laydown yard for one of its tenants.

“Kaskaskia Regional Port District is poised for significant growth,” Weilbacher said. “With these upgrades, we’re going to have great capacity within our terminals to move cargo to any tenant that wants to locate there.”

Weilbacher talked about a feasibility study underway with the Army Corps of Engineers to construct a pipeline from the northernmost terminal on the Kaskaskia River to Scott Air Force Base. A pipeline would more safely transfer fuel to the base, versus continuing to have it trucked in. “If we want to keep Scott Air Force Base thriving and off any future closure list, we need to look at an alternative fuel source for that base,” Weilbacher said.

Jim McNichols, Executive Director of the Jefferson County Port Authority talked about expansion plans for the Port Authority, which is located south of St. Louis County, with boundaries encompassing the entirety of Jefferson County, Mo. The Jefferson County Port Authority has a dock in Kimmswick, Mo., but does not currently operate any facilities. That will soon change with the addition of a new port facility planned for Herculaneum that will bring American Patriot Holding’s (APH) new innovative Container-On-Vessel (COV) service to the Midwest. The container facility will be a key hub on a the newly established all-water, north-south trade lane connecting the St. Louis region to the lower Mississippi River and on to worldwide destinations.

“We were able to take the momentum received from American Patriot’s announcement and head to Jefferson City last year to secure an appropriation of $25 million that will fund a list of approximately 14 infrastructure-related projects that need to be completed for the site to be prepared to receive APH’s liner vessels,” McNichols said. “Some of the projects that are well advanced include the design and construction of new access roads, relocation of existing utilities, and the permitting design and construction of a new bulk materials processing facility that will be located on the southeastern portion of the property.”

Leveraging the $25 million in state funds received from Missouri, the Jefferson County Port Authority has taken advantage of an additional opportunity made possible by the creation of a series of grant programs fueled by federal ARPA funding that the Missouri Department of Economic Development designed to help some of the most impacted industries recover from the pandemic-related shutdowns and revenue losses. One program was specifically designed to identify previously utilized industrial sites that have fallen out of productive use and to provide seed funding to bring them back online. After identifying 2,200 acres on six miles of Mississippi River frontage, the Jefferson County Port Authority applied for the mega-site designation of 1,000 contiguous acres or more, which means the $25 million in state appropriations could be matched dollar for dollar.

“The critical portion of all of these sites is they all contain multiple modes of ingress and egress into them and out of them,” said McNichols. “Now you combine this opportunity with the currently approved and budgeted expansion of I-55, and the momentum generated by these projects really dovetails with our overall effort.”

Wilmsmeyer reinforced how vital the ports are to the local and national economy and the role they pay in moving freight across the nation as part of the global supply chain. “The federal government now is understanding that role, and that’s why so much money is being sent to some of these inland ports to address this backlog of issues and to increase that efficiency and keep those products moving,” said Wilmsmeyer. “One barge equals the same amount of commodity as about 22 rail cars or 90 trucks. So, when you think about the amount of product we’re able to move through these small inland ports, it’s pretty incredible.”

Panel moderator Mary Lamie told the port representatives, “There’s a common thread that connects you. You are continuing to invest in your facilities with an eye to the future, making sure that all the ports in this region have the capacity and infrastructure to accommodate future growth. It’s our pleasure to be able to highlight those investments which collectively strengthened our region’s role as a global freight hub.” Lamie is the Executive Vice President of Multi Modal Enterprises for Bi-State Development, which operates the St. Louis Regional Freightway as one of its enterprises.

To view the panel session, visit FreightWeekSTL 2023 continues through May 26 and will feature virtual panel sessions with industry experts and leaders in freight, logistics and transportation. The week-long freight and logistics expo is presented by the St. Louis Regional Freightway and Bi-State Development, which operates the St. Louis Regional Freightway as one of its enterprises. To learn more or to register for upcoming panel sessions or watch earlier sessions for FreightWeekSTL 2023, visit

A Bi-State Development enterprise, the St. Louis Regional Freightway is a regional freight district and comprehensive authority for freight operations and opportunities within eight counties in southwestern Illinois and eastern Missouri, which comprise the St. Louis metropolitan area. Public sector and private industry businesses are partnering with the St. Louis Regional Freightway to establish the bi-state region as one of the premier multimodal freight hubs and distribution centers in the United States through marketing and advocacy for infrastructure development that supports the movement of freight. To learn more, visit

$30,000 in College Scholarships Awarded by SITE AdvancementFoundation to St. Louis Area Students


Six students planning to attend college in the Fall 2023 semester have each received a $5,000 scholarship from the SITE Advancement Foundation to help further their education.  The $30,000 in total scholarships is double the amount awarded by the Foundation in the prior year. 

“Over the past several years we have increased the individual scholarship awards from $1,500 to $5,000 in response to the cost associated with attending today’s colleges and technical schools,” said Jeremy Bennett, Executive Director of the SITE Improvement Association.  “The number of students applying for this year’s scholarships significantly increased thanks to the higher award amounts made available by the Foundation.  I want to thank our Foundation, Scholarship Committee, and members of SITE for their generosity in responding to the needs of our scholarship recipients.”

High school graduates, college, and trade school students with a parent employed by one of the 230 SITE Improvement Association member companies are eligible for these scholarships, which are based on each student’s academic achievements, involvement in the community and financial need.

The scholarships are made possible through voluntary contributions from SITE Improvement Association member companies and from the SITE Advancement Foundation Scholarship Fund, which has awarded more than $400,000 in scholarships over the past 23 years.

“While recipients may pursue careers outside of construction, they all appreciate the opportunity for this financial relief provided by the construction community,” said Bennett.  “Past recipients have found ways of giving back to the industry, especially as they grow into various leadership roles, and those efforts compounded over 23 years are priceless.”

This year’s scholarship recipients include:

Faith Beckmann – Sponsored by Nor-Vel Grading & Excavating, LLC, Faith is finishing her freshman year at Westminster College where she is studying History and Museum Studies. While at school, Faith serves as the student assistant for the Westminster College Archives in the Reeves Library. She is also employed as a seasonal interpreter at the First Missouri State Capitol State Historic Site, where she leads tours for visitors.

Hunter Hathaway – Sponsored by McConnell & Associates Corporation, Hunter plans to study Physical Therapy at St. Louis University after graduating from Fox High School. Hunter’s participation in high school football and throwing discus fueled his desire to become a physical therapist. His goal is to work for a professional sports team.

Baylee Marquez – Sponsored by N.B. West Contracting Company, Inc., Baylee is a Nursing student at Truman State University. She is interested in working in pediatrics or labor and delivery after graduation. Baylee enjoys helping those around her by making a positive impact when helping them through difficult times.

 Luke Merz – Sponsored by Central Stone Company, Luke will attend the University of Mississippi after graduating from Freeburg Community High School and plans to study Mechanical Engineering. Luke has been a part of his high school cross country team and has served as a counselor at cross country and track summer camps. His favorite classes are mathematics and science.

Mason Neal – Sponsored by Kuesel Excavating Co., Inc., Mason is completing his freshman year at the University of Mississippi where he’s studying Mathematics and pursuing a career in intelligence. He has applied to Ole Miss’s highly exclusive Intelligence and Security Studies program. If accepted, he will complete an internship with one of America’s intelligence agencies.

Margaret St. John – Sponsored by McFry Excavating, Inc., Margaret is a third year Nursing student at Missouri State University.  She has served the Missouri State’s Student Government Association as a senator as well as a member of its Health and Wellness Committee. She is also involved with the Student Nursing Organization.

The SITE Improvement Association advances the construction industry in eastern Missouri through public policy advocacy, labor relations support, safety and leadership training and professional networking. Established in 1966 as an independent trade organization, SITE represents more than 230 contractors and suppliers in the Concrete, Asphalt Paving, Sewer/Utility, Highway/Bridge, Earthmoving, Landscaping and Specialty construction sectors.  For more information, visit

ASCC Hires Two to Direct Association’s Sustainability Initiative

Bev Garnant
Bruce Suprenant

The American Society of Concrete Contractors (ASCC) announced that Bruce Suprenant, P.E., PhD., FACI, and Bev Garnant, HACI, have been retained to develop and manage the association’s sustainability initiative. Suprenant and Garnant are ASCC’s former technical director and executive director respectively.

“This initiative has two purposes,” explained Garnant. “The first is to collaborate with the Portland Cement Association (PCA), the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA), and others, to best achieve the goal of lowering the carbon footprint of our industry. The second is to gather and develop resources to help our members navigate this new reality.”

“Sustainability is ASCC’s new safety,” says Suprenant. “The majority of owners and developers will soon mandate that the construction of their projects, as well as the long-term operation of the structures, be as sustainable as possible. It’s ASCC’s responsibility to provide their contractors the knowledge and expertise to meet these preconditions.”

ASCC has established a Sustainability Committee for the purpose of accomplishing the goals of the initiative. Members include representatives from PCA, NRMCA, and ACI Neu, producers, consultants, and contractors from across the country.

The American Society of Concrete Contractors is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the capabilities of those who build with concrete, and to providing them a unified voice in the construction industry.  Members include concrete contracting firms, manufacturers, suppliers, and others interested in the concrete industry such as architects, specifiers, and distributors.  There are approximately 720 member companies in the United States and 13 foreign countries. For more information, visit or call the ASCC office at (866) 788-2722.

Diversity in Pipe Trades Continues to Grow through Unique Labor/Management Partnership


More than two dozen people from underserved populations have entered the pipe trades in the last three years through a unique partnership between Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562, the Mechanical Contractors Association of Eastern Missouri (MCA EMO), and the Plumbing Industry Council (PIC). Now, the CHAMPIONS Initiative is preparing to launch a fourth cohort of women and minorities who will devote their summer to kick-starting an exciting new career through intensive training, formal mentorship, and job placement as a pre-apprentice with union mechanical and plumbing contractors.

CHAMPIONS – short for Creating Hometown Advantages through Minority Participation in Our Neighborhoods – launched in 2020 as an effort to diversify the skilled labor force in St. Louis. Recognizing the need for greater inclusivity in construction, labor and management came together and created a concrete road map to increasing diversity in jobs historically unavailable to women and minorities. Though the process for entrance is highly competitive, candidates are not required to have previous work experience in the trades, but simply a strong desire to make it a lifelong career, which is just one of several unique attributes of the initiative.

“It is a huge part of making our city more equitable for women and people of color,” said Megan Evergreen, a member of the first CHAMPIONS cohort, who is now a Local 562 apprentice working at Murphy Company.

“The program is an innovative response to the desperate need for new blood in light of an aging workforce,” said Steve Faust of icon Mechanical, who helped develop the program.

“Having new apprentices all the time is so important, and it’s so important that they get in here now so we have that transfer of information from the senior workforce to the newer generation coming into the field,” Faust said in a new video spotlighting the CHAMPIONS Initiative.

The six-week training period at the core of the CHAMPIONS Initiative uses a dual approach. Participants spend the bulk of their time in full-time technical training in the plumbing, pipefitting and mechanical trades. They also participate in weekly classes focused on personal and professional development such as financial literacy, communications, and teamwork, all aimed at helping them build a long-term career. In addition, each CHAMPIONS participant receives mentorship from a career tradesperson.

The program aims to address common barriers to moving into a new career by providing compensation through living stipends and transportation assistance to all participants during the initial six-weeks of intensive training. Upon successful completion of the six-week kickoff, participants officially graduate to pre-apprentice status and are hired on by participating mechanical and plumbing contractors of MCA EMO and/or PIC. They continue to receive mentorship and attend peer group meetings while earning an hourly wage and qualifying for Local 562 benefits such as retirement savings and health care. Following a year in the program, successful pre-apprentices are invited to officially begin their journey as a skilled pipefitter or plumber with a formal invitation into the Local 562 Apprenticeship Program.

Kurt Voss, MCA board member and vice president of engineering at Integrated Facility Services, said the program is a great way to introduce fresh perspectives on the trades.

“It helps us as the contractors to bring in new personnel and sometimes those that might think a little bit differently than those that have always been in the industry,” Voss said.

This week, current and past participants, mentors, and management will meet for dinner and a discussion on how to continuously improve and update program design and delivery.  Labor and management are also working on a toolkit that other industry partners and unions can use to build their own programs, with estimated release later this summer.

Cohort 4 will launch in mid-June at the state-of-the-art LU562 Training Center, with successful participants set for pre-apprenticeship placement with participating contractors in early August. Its graduates will join about 30 CHAMPIONS participants who have entered the apprenticeship pipeline since the first cohort in 2020.

The Mechanical Contractors Association of Eastern Missouri, the Plumbing Industry Council, and the Plumbers and Pipefitters LU 562 came together to launch the Champions Initiative in order to strengthen the St. Louis construction workforce through direct investment in the underrepresented local community.

The Initiative provides long-term mentorship and professional development support – inspiring interest, minimizing common barriers to success, and offering a clear pathway to an exceptional career in the pipe trades.

Home Builders Association Donates $15,000 to Rebuilding Together Saint Louis


On behalf of the Home Builders Charitable Foundation (HBCF), 2023 HBA President Jeremy Roth (Elite Development Services/McBride Homes) (left) presented a $15,000 donation to Rebuilding Together Saint Louis’ executive director Elaine Powers.

The donation will be used toward Rebuilding Together Saint Louis’ Rebuilding Day Program. Rebuilding Together revitalizes neighborhoods in partnership with the community by rehabilitating the houses of low-income home owners, particularly the elderly and the disabled, so that they may continue to live independently in comfort and safety. Rebuilding Day is the organization’s annual one-day blitz where volunteers make home repairs and a lasting impact on home owners in the St. Louis Metro area.

The HBA is a local trade association of nearly 600 member firms representing the residential construction industry. The Home Builders Charitable Foundation, the HBA’s charitable arm, is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing housing assistance to people or organizations with special shelter needs.

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