Governor Herbert has created an exploratory committee to research the feasibility of an inland port for the state of Utah. Inland ports are designated sites with strong transportation infrastructure and distribution operations.
Suzette Alles is the International Business Development Specialist for World Trade Center Utah. She said land-locked states such as Utah use inland ports much like traditional coastal ports, providing services, including customs clearance, to speed the process of inland international trade.
Alles said Utah can be a bigger player in the global economy and an inland port may be the answer to expose Utah to worldwide markets.
“Recently, the state contracted with Cambridge Systematics and GLD Partners to undertake a feasibility study,” Alles said. “The consultants undertaking this study are diving deep into the research and data, looking at markets specifically for logistics movements and our competitiveness for logistics operations—additionally, they will consider key factors such as the timing. Is this a good time for Utah to have an inland port? And if it is, how does a more efficient logistics system make Utah more competitive for investment?”
Alles said an inland port could benefit Utah’s economy, but the committee also wants to know if the economic benefits match or outweigh the possible environmental impacts.
“We are talking about creating a more efficient supply chain, which means less movement of cargo between logistics hubs,” Alles said. “We want to reduce the number of trucks as much as possible and use more rail, which is more attractive for the environment. The environment is always a top priority, so we will look at future clean technologies, smart corridors, zero emissions. The freight industry in general is moving toward more efficiencies and exploring new technologies that would offset environmental impacts.”
Alles and other members of the committee will be touring inland ports in Greer, South Carolina and Cordele, Georgia this fall. The main purpose of the tour will be to learn more about how inland ports function and other specifics like business models.
“We have far exceeded our expectations, which is an indicator that is certainly a piece of infrastructure that was critical to the growth of that market segment,” said Jack Ellenberg, Inland Port Greer’s Senior Vice President for Strategic Projects.
Ellenberg said the biggest challenge the port faces, is keeping up with all the new business.