FreightWeekSTL

Developers Talk PPP Success, Jobs Creation in Redeveloping Former Auto Plant Sites

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By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE

Cooperation between public agencies and private development firms has manifested in redevelopment of – and reinvestment in – former automotive manufacturing sites across the St. Louis region.

This message came from a panel of experts who weighed in on past and present economic development successes in repurposing sites that once manufactured automobiles into vibrant business parks today.

The virtual panel spoke May 27 as part of FreightWeekSTL 2021, a week-long campaign held in partnership with the Inland Marine Expo. FreightWeekSTL 2021 provided industry leaders in development, real estate, logistics, freight, shipping and carrying with sessions and events spotlighting St. Louis’ global connectivity as a multimodal gateway for raw materials and finished goods.

Current evidence of such redevelopment success is Northpoint Development LLC’s 1.3 million-square-foot facility in Wentzville, formerly the General Motors automotive plant and now a GM suppliers’ location known as Wentzville Logistics Center. Mary Lamie, VP of Multimodal Enterprises for Bi-State Development and head of the St. Louis Regional Freightway, said the recent expansion of the former Wentzville plant has created more than 4,300 direct jobs and represents a $1.5 billion private investment – the largest private business investment in Missouri history. The facility is nearly 100 percent occupied.

Two other St. Louis-centric automotive plant redevelopments are further evidence of successful redevelopment and subsequent jobs creation, according to Doug Rasmussen, president and CEO of Steadfast City Economic & Community Partners.

One is the former Ford Motor Co. plant in Hazelwood. Panattoni Development Co. invested $250 million into the 160-acre site beginning in 2008 to repurpose it as Aviator Business Park, generating more than 1,500 permanent jobs.

The other is the former Chrysler plant in Fenton. US Capital Development bought the site in 2014, investing $300 million into it and redeveloping it as Fenton Logistics Park – creating 2,000 jobs in the process.

“The model for success for each of these locations focused on the bi-state region’s long history of supporting our manufacturing and logistics cluster,” Lamie said.

All three automotive site redevelopments included various public financial incentives in the mix.

“It’s incredible to think about what occurred at these locations and what’s there now,” said Rasmussen, who moderated the panel. “It’s a great story of rebirth resiliency, excellent locations, and the ingenuity and determination to get things done through valuable public-private partnerships.”

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St. Louis Regional Freightway Gives Leaders River’s View of Freight Activity, Assets

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By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE

Leaders from economic development, real estate, logistics and other sectors learned about the St. Louis region’s powerful role as a global freight and logistics hub during an hour-long riverboat tour May 26 as part of FreightWeek STL.

Dubbed the Ag Coast of America, the mighty Mississippi River supports the region’s multimodal freight network, including rail and barge facilities, transfer services, ports, roads and bridges. Within a 15-mile river corridor, the region has 16 barge-transfer facilities handling agriculture and fertilizer products. At total capacity, these can handle more than 150 barges daily, providing the highest level of barge handling capacity anywhere along the Mississippi.

St. Louis Development Corp. Port Director Susan Taylor co-narrated the river tour as guests saw grain being transported by barge. She said 60 percent of grain that’s exported from St. Louis travels down the Mississippi River via barge to New Orleans.

Tour co-narrator and SCF Marine VP of Marketing Rick Barbee noted that with more than 70 miles of river and a 9-foot navigation channel, St. Louis is the third-largest inland port in the U.S.

Tour goers also witnessed barges carrying asphalt and cement as well as barges transporting wheat.

“This tour has been a great opportunity for industry leaders, shippers, carriers, and freight and logistics experts to realize the tremendous importance of these assets,” said Mary Lamie, vice president of Multimodal Enterprises for Bi-State Development and head of the St. Louis Regional Freightway. “We’ve been able to give industry leaders a first-hand look at St. Louis’ freight assets while also making them aware of the abundant career opportunities in freight and logistics.”

River travelers also caught an up-close glimpse of Merchants Bridge, the second-oldest bridge over the Mississippi that is undergoing a $222 million rehabilitation that will be completed in late 2023.

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