JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Interim Committee on the Development and Improvement of Missouri Ports held a working session Tuesday afternoon to determine how best to make Missouri’s ports a priority for the future.
While the Missouri Port Authority was in attendance and offered some insight into their process, the committee, for the most part, discussed among themselves the strengths and weaknesses of the current state of Missouri’s ports as well as short and long-term goals.
Among those was asking Speaker Todd Richardson to grant the committee the status of a special committee instead of merely an interim committee, request that MODOT and the Departments of Tourism and Economic Development to outline an advertising campaign for Missouri ports and rivers and to identify viable projects and designate budget requests for them.
“The most important is the collaboration and communication that we need to have among the different stakeholders that are involved in this,” Rep. Becky Ruth, R-Festus, said. Ruth chairs the committee. “I think also looking at how we budget for our ports in our state, and the increase in budgets and making sure we have the hard facts there, the dollar amounts to support what we’re asking for as well as the need for education and PR.”
Ruth believes that another essential part of the committee’s job will be to educate members of the House of Representatives, especially members whose districts hold ports. She did not say whether or not the committee would get legislation in motion next session, but she did say the financial benefit of Missouri’s ports could speak for themselves.
“I think we have a good opportunity here in front of us to let the other members of the House of Representatives know how important ports are in our state to show them what a great economic development tool that we’ve got at our disposal and the amount of dollars it can bring in revenue to our state,” she said.