A new partnership between America's Central Port and a port on the Yangtze River in China could steer more business and opportunities toward the metro-east.
On Tuesday, the Tri-City Port Board of Commissioners announced the cooperative agreement between the Granite City port and the Wuhan New Port in China. America's Central Port Executive Director Dennis Wilmsmeyer recently traveled to Hubei Province in central China to visit the operations there.
Wilmsmeyer said the partnership aims to promote foreign trade and establish a network of information sharing and services between the two ports. Officials from both ports will share experiences in operating free-trade zones at inland ports, promote foreign investment and investigate a shipping route between the two.
"They are looking for opportunities to invest here in the United States, and so we're hopeful we can create something here for them to direct investments in the Southwestern Illinois area," Wilmsmeyer said.
In turn, the metro-east port is interested in tapping into container cargo system that is widely used in China. Wilmsmeyer said the Chinese economy also provides many opportunities for the metro-east.
"It's an excellent opportunity for us to continue this relationship and to build on to this relationship," he said. "Obviously the Chinese economy is limitless and for us to be able to look for new investment opportunities there, and more importantly bring business back to us, is a major goal of ours."
The alternative energy initiatives recently introduced at America's Central Port has also attracted attention from the Chinese. The Granite City port has recently installed a plug-in area for hybrid vehicles and is also participating in a pilot solar project to help power the port. Wilmsmeyer said the Chinese have been lagging in this area.
"We're hoping to share information with them through ideas and concepts," he said. "China still has a long way to go in new renewable energy, so we can help them get where they want to be."
Wuhan is the most populous city in central China and is located at the central reaches of the Yangtze and Han rivers. The area serves as a major rail, road and transportation hub in China.
In a separate development, a group of Chinese delegates toured the Granite City port in January. The group was on a fact-finding mission to learn about how the port district uses river, rail and roadway transportation to drive commerce in the metro-east.
Contact reporter Will Buss at email@example.com or 239-2526.