Illinois Valley a Sweet Spot for Development

A few representatives from the Illinois Valley found themselves in downtown Chicago on Thursday — and they were not there for the NFL draft.

Marci Duro, executive director and CEO of Illinois Valley Area Chamber of Commerce gave a presentation at the Rail Summit in the Union League Club.

The Rail Summit brought together a mixed group of railroad leaders, logistic analysts and economic development professionals from all over the Midwest.

Duro’s presentation, “Capitalizing on Logistical Assets — Rail, Road, River”, featured a listing of some of the Illinois Valley’s finest assets worth investing in.

That list included Hennepin’s newly-purchased steel plant, Eakas Corp. in Peru and Marquis Energy.

“Welcome to the Illinois Valley: The energy rush with a transportation plus,” Duro said. “With six major metro markets within 50 minutes, we are truly located in the sweet spot of the Midwest — and for many products — the entire country. I know they are going to do something with the Mississippi, but we’re still in the sweet spot.”

Representatives from the newly-purchased steel plant in Hennepin — IPS Steel of Michigan — were at the summit to vouch for the Illinois Valley.

Kishan Sutariya, project manager for IPS, gave a brief presentation on the newly-purchased property and answered a few questions as well.

“IPS purchased the Hennepin steel mill in November of 2014. When we purchased the mill it had been sitting vacant for five years,” Sutariya said. “It caught our eye when we saw the tremendous amount of logistical assets that it had. It had over seven miles of rail onsite, a barge dock on the Illinois River and a highway that came right to its doorstep.”

Duro’s presentation contained a slide show of before and after photos taken of various sites in the Illinois Valley.

In detail, Duro discussed growth of those businesses and how the Illinois Valley has made that a possibility.

“The region encompasses an area of more than 600 square miles along the Illinois River at the intersection of two major interstates,” Duro said. “Using Interstate 80 and Interstate 39 as the crossroads access, we have a rare asset. Using an 18-mile radius there are 13 complete interstate interchanges. Complete on-and-off interchanges, there’s 13, with capabilities with commercial land available in various sizes.”

Thursday was day two of the Rail Summit. The day began with speakers including Linda Bauer Darr, president of American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.

Source: News Tribune