Your Connection

to the

Ports-to-Plains Region

October 24, 2017

Volume Number 15
Issue Number 21

We have a full newsletter for you this week, with information covering the wide variety of activities that Ports-to-Plains is involved with in our efforts to secure the benefits of trade for North America’s energy and agriculture heartland.  First off please see the article about the opportunity to submit comments for the Texas Freight Mobility Plan 2017.  This is a great opportunity to let TxDOT know that extending Interstate 27 is a top priority.  The article has all the details on where to direct your comments, but please note that the deadline is this Thursday, October 26.  We also have articles on the impact NAFTA has on our economy, ranging from a big picture perspective from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to the local perspective from the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce.  We have articles about economic development activities from communities along the corridor.  Those of you who attended our 20th Annual Conference last month will be pleased to see a piece from Doug Griffiths.  Doug received rave reviews for his keynote address at the conference, and we are pleased to bring you more of his work.  If you have something happening in your community that you would like to share, please pass that along to us here at Ports-to-Plains. 

 Michael Reeves, President

We are a voice for our small town, grassroots members who may otherwise not have access to the right audiences, as well as a conduit for industry to come together in support and promotion of transportation improvements.

We are committed to working as an Alliance to improve transportation infrastructure and business networks opportunities, by advocating for appropriate funding levels, so business and industry can thrive.

We are focused on the economic and business interests that are the lifeblood of the region.


Ports-to-Plains Comments on Texas Freight Mobility Plan 2017 *Only two days left for public comment

The Texas Department of Transportation has released a draft of the Texas Freight Mobility Plan 2017, and is accepting comments on the report until Thursday, October 26. This is an important opportunity to voice your support for the Ports-to-Plains Corridor and the extension of Interstate 27. The document can be accessed HERE.

The Plan includes several components that are compatible with the goals of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance. It recognizes the importance of rural transportation, with the entire Ports-to-Plains Corridor in the state included in the Texas Highway Freight Network. A segment of the corridor is designated as a Critical Rural Freight Corridor, and several projects on the route are listed in the recommended projects list.

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance is very pleased to see the entire Ports-to-Plains Corridor included in the Texas Highway Freight Network, and a segment of the corridor (US 87 from I-20 to Grape Creek Rd) designated as a Critical Rural Freight Corridor. Several important Ports-to-Plains projects were included in the recommended projects list, including improvements to SL 335 in Amarillo and US 277 in the San Angelo and Laredo Districts.

One important subject not directly addressed in the draft Texas Freight Mobility Plan is the need to extend Interstate 27. The importance of Interstate highways is noted throughout the Plan, and they carry a tremendous portion of freight throughout the state. However the lack of a major north-south Interstate west of I-35 is a major gap in the Texas freight network that will only be exacerbated by the tremendous growth in trade with Mexico that is forecasted in the Plan. With highway tonnage expected to double by 2045, increases in congestion and a decline in the levels of service is projected on Texas Interstates. While improvements to I-35 are certainly needed, that will not solve the problem. Extending Interstate 27 will provide a much-needed alternative Interstate highway that can funnel some of that freight traffic away from bottlenecks in urban areas. The 2015 Texas Freight Mobility Plan noted this saying, “The state must focus not only on improving existing facilities, but also on developing future freight corridors to move products to markets and exports.” It goes on to recommend that TxDOT “give additional consideration to the extension or designation of other interstate routes. Examples include I-27 and upgrades to portions of US 190 to interstate standards.”

According to the Texas Freight Mobility Plan, “By 2040, over 73 percent of Texas’ population and 82 percent of the state’s employment is projected to be located within five miles of an interstate.” An extended Interstate 27 is crucial for the economic competitiveness of West Texas.

“A future interstate designation will be a significant new economic development tool for communities along the corridor,” said Michael Reeves, Ports-to-Plains President. “Manufacturers, warehousing and distribution will be drawn to the new interstate. Travel service businesses, such as hotels, truck stops, convenience stores and restaurants, which can have a dramatic impact on small communities, will also open. This will create much-needed new jobs and expand tax base in rural West Texas.”

• Email at
• Postal mail addressed to TxDOT Freight and International Trade Section,
125 E. 11th St., Austin, TX 78701 (mailed comments must be postmarked by
October 26, 2017)

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Kale Driemeier at
512-936-0961 or

 America Last? Four Examples of How the NAFTA Follies Hurt U.S. Exporters

As negotiations to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) continue, a moment of truth is at hand. While the American business and agriculture community broadly supports modernization of the pact, the Trump administration is pushing a series of proposals — a sunset clause, much more stringent rules of origin, moves to eliminate investor protections, and others — that violate its pledge to “do no harm” in the negotiations.

These proposals threaten the negotiations and NAFTA itself, risking U.S. access to our two largest export markets — with huge economic, poli

However, they are also having a big impact globally. The world is watching — and responding by clinching new agreements that reroute trade flows to bypass the United States.

As Chandler Goule, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers, recently observed, “President Donald Trump promised farmers a series of bilateral trade agreements … It is time to get past plowing the same fields and start opening ground in new markets… Right now, we are standing around watching the world pass us by on trade agreements.”

Indeed, the U.S. business and agriculture community needs better access to the 95% of the world’s consumers who live outside our borders. President Trump said he would win this access through bilateral agreements rather than multi-country pacts like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Read on...

Amarillo area ag, business experts say pulling out of NAFTA would have negative impact

As talks continue to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement — called the “worst trade deal ever” by President Donald Trump — area economists, farmers and ranchers are hopeful but nervous about the deal’s future.

Negotiators from U.S., Mexico and Canada began a fourth round of discussions last week to modernize the deal, which was negotiated in 1993 to eliminate trade barriers among the three member countries.

Texas Panhandle observers worry about a withdrawal from the agreement leading to tariffs on trade that would stifle Texas Panhandle grain exports, disrupt the flow of cattle into the region’s feed yards and hurt the Amarillo area economy.

Dale Artho — who grows wheat, sorghum, corn and cotton on 6,500 acres in Deaf Smith, Oldham and Randall counties — said the termination of the deal “would be completely negative.”

“It wouldn’t help us,” he said, “and it wouldn’t help the consumers of this nation nor the consumers of Canada or Mexico.”

The 26-county Texas Panhandle exports the vast majority of the wheat grown in the region, and Mexico is among the top buyers from the U.S.

Artho said he was confident U.S. negotiators, including Trump, would keep the deal and update it for the 21st century. Trump has blamed NAFTA for taking thousands of manufacturing jobs, but Artho questioned how effective ending the agreement would be in helping those jobs return.

Read on...

Amarillo Chamber of Commerce signs joint letter supporting NAFTA


The Amarillo Chamber of Commerce joined hundreds of other business groups nationwide in supporting the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday sent a letter to President Donald Trump — with signatures from the Amarillo chamber and more than 300 other groups — asking for NAFTA to be “modernized” with the U.S. staying a part of the deal.

NAFTA has “created American jobs, boosted economic growth, and strengthened local economies,” the letter said, “but we know we can do even more to seize the benefits of trade with our North American neighbors.”

The deal has been especially good to farmers and ranchers, the letter said, noting that the agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled since the agreement.

Read on...

Colorado’s beef producers see big chill ahead if NAFTA goes away

If the North American Free Trade Agreement ends, it could potentially mean a very big chill on one of Colorado’s biggest industries: beef.

Today, Colorado beef producers enjoy duty-free, unlimited access to Canada and Mexico, the state’s top trade partners. The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association estimates Colorado sells a combined $380 million in beef to the two countries each year.

If NAFTA goes away, trade between the U.S. and its North American neighbors could revert to rules maintained by the World Trade Organization, said Joe Schuele, spokesman for the Denver-based U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Under those rules, Canada assesses a 26.5 percent tariff on all beef imports. Mexico assesses a 20 percent tariff on chilled beef and a 25 percent tariff on frozen beef. Doing the math on just the $171 million in beef the Cattlemen’s Association estimates Colorado sends to Canada each year, tariffs could add around $45.3 million in costs to access that market alone. And that’s not even considering any additional administrative costs.

Schuele puts it simply: “What’s really going to happen is you’ll move less product.”

Read on...

 City benefits from $75 million in investments

Nearly $75 million in economic development investments in Chadron over the last five years have created or retained 180 jobs. That’s according to a report being compiled for the city’s recertification application as a Nebraska Economic Development Certified Community. 

Chadron first was certified under the program in 2012, and is due for its five-year renewal. Deb Cottier, executive director of the Northwest Nebraska Development Corporation, presented the report and application for renewal Monday to the city council. 

“It’s really amazing what’s been accomplished in this community because of vision,” she said. 

The report lists 16 new businesses that have opened since 2012. Those new businesses have created 120 jobs, pointed out Vice Mayor Miles Bannan. Another 40 new jobs have been created due to 17 business expansions, and still another 20 retained because of those same expansions. The expansions range from Dollar General’s new building on the east side of Chadron to the addition of two new product lines at Chadron Motor Company. 

“In total, the amount of money invested in our community in major commercial/government projects, including infrastructure, since Oct. 1, 2012, is a staggering $74,753,000,” the report reads. “This investment sets the stage for continued growth. Housing development will be the next big project/challenge that Chadron will take on in the coming months and years.”

The city recently completed a housing study and anticipates meeting with potential developers next year.

Read on... 

Multimillion-dollar ag facility under way at Sunray

Texas Northwestern Railway has landed a subsidiary of agriculture giant Agrium as the first tenant for its recently opened Panhandle Logistics Park.

The park is a 580-acre, rail-served industrial park at 6670 County Road E in Moore County, near Sunray and about an hour north of Amarillo.

Northern Agrium subsidiary Crop Production Services will develop a multimillion-dollar facility that will bring jobs and growth to Moore County, according to TNW Corporation, parent company of TXNW Railway.

Crop Production Services is an international fertilizer company based in Loveland, Colorado, and its new facility will function as a retail location offering agricultural products and services to the region.

Construction already has begun, with a targeted completion of early 2018.

Read on...

Energy, pipelines help make everything around you

How does your typical workday morning go? If it’s anything like mine, it goes something like this.

The alarm sounds, you hit the lights, disconnect your charged phone, check your emails, brew coffee, then jump on one of the traffic clogged highways for work. It’s routine across the Metro, something we really don’t think about.

And it’s all possible because of something most of us take for granted.

It’s the massive amounts of electricity and fuel needed to power every aspect of our daily routines — and as Colorado continues to grow, the need for energy will only increase — the challenge will only become more daunting on how to keep pace with energy delivery.

All of this would not be possible without the delivery of this much-needed energy we use each and every day. This happens because of one critical piece of infrastructure: pipelines, which transport Colorado energy out of sight, beneath our feet, to homes and workplaces — nonstop — each day.

They’re Colorado’s economic arteries, a truth not lost on communities where job growth and tax revenue is robust and businesses are turning profits. Pipelines, which carried much needed energy into, and across Colorado, also helped local households and families generate nearly $4.1 billion dollars in annual income, according to a Leed’s Business School study.

Without conventional energy and its accompanying pipeline infrastructure, many Colorado-made necessities, like the plastic used in manufacturing skis and snowboards, plus the electricity used to power ski lifts, wouldn’t exist.

Read on...

Oyen Rail Yard & Logistics Park Project Steaming Ahead 

The Special Areas Board and the Town of Oyen are working together to bring new life and economic opportunities to the Oyen railyard.

The Oyen Rail Yard & Logistics Park Project is a 155‐acre multi‐phase economic development project managed by the Special Areas Board, the Town of Oyen and the Palliser Economic Partnership. Phase 1 of this project will develop the existing railyards located on the north edge of the Town of Oyen into a logistics park capable of managing up to 2500 cars annually, of materials ranging from specialty agricultural products to industrial construction project components. Estimated costs of the initial phase are $2.1 million and includes upgrades to existing rail, construction of new rail and initial site preparation.

“A project like the Oyen Rail Yard & Logistics Park plays to our strengths and builds on the successes of our past. It allows us to start small, while still building for future development. It is a strategic investment by the Board into the local people and businesses who call this region home.”

Jordon Christianson, Chair – Special Areas Board

The initial phase of this project will begin this fall, with the rehabilitation of the existing tracks and the establishment of new anchored tenants in the rail yard. The next phase of the project will include the development of the larger logistics park area.

“We are excited about the opportunity to bring new investment and economic opportunities to our town, and to our surrounding communities. This project will create jobs, both direct and indirect, it will support future development and it will help maintain Oyen and area as an attractive place to do business. Projects like this give people the opportunity to stay in our community, raise families and having a good life.

Doug Jones Mayor – Town of Oyen

Initially investigated as an economic viability study by Palliser Economic Partnership, this project attracted significant interest from private sector companies. Once developed, the Oyen Rail Yard and Logistics Park will position this region as an intermediate transportation hub in Western Canada.

“Palliser Economic Partnership is pleased to be a strategic partner in the Oyen Rail Yard and Logistics Park project. The logistics park will provide a platform that facilitates both short‐term and long‐term economic benefits for the region.”

Jay Slemp, President & Board Chairman – Palliser Economic Partnership

See full press release HERE

Our Welcoming Little Lie

If I were to visit your community, attend a town hall meeting of average folks, and pose the question, “Is your community a welcoming place?”, I have no doubt the answer would be a resounding “yes” from the crowd. Unfortunately, that is likely a lie. It may be a deliberate lie you tell yourselves so you don’t feel shame or guilt, or it may be an accidental lie because you simply aren’t aware just how closed off your community really is to outsiders and newcomers, but regardless, it’s likely to be a lie.

The first problem is that what most of us think of as being welcoming is just being friendly. There are a lot of friendly communities out there. I have been to many places where people smile when they pass you on the street. Some even say, “Hi”. If you are lost, they will even point a finger in the direction you should head. That is being friendly. There is nothing wrong with just being friendly, but admit that is all you are, and stop telling yourself your community is welcoming when it takes so much more than being friendly.

I remind you that you don’t have to be a welcoming community, but be aware of the consequences of your decision to not be welcoming. Outsiders bring new energy and ideas to your community. They bring money, and they spend it too. They bring kids for your school. They bring volunteers for community events. They start businesses. They buy houses. They grow the economy. They add an adaptability to communities that have grown old and stagnant. They bring fresh perspectives to old challenges. If you aren’t a welcoming community you likely won’t get much, if any, of those great things.

Most communities are not deliberately unwelcoming, even the ones that regularly label newcomers as FOBs, newbs, or come-from-aways. Communities most often aren’t trying to deliberately chase people out of town. They simply don’t know what they’re doing, or the consequences of the attitudes that create those words. Being welcoming is what draws people in, and most importantly it is what makes them stay. If your community wants to have a prosperous future, it is going to need more people, which means it is going to have to be deliberately welcoming, and try to create a reputation for being so.

When I refer to communities in this column, most people will be thinking of the town in which they live. That is valid, but community goes deeper than just our town. A community is a group of people with a common purpose which is often based on shared characteristics. We all belong to many communities. I belong to a community of parents with pre-teen boys. I also belong to a sub-community of parents with pre-teen boys who play soccer. I also belong to a community of small business owners, and consultants, and former elected officials. None of them are official groups with membership dues, but they are communities of people with common elements.

The smaller the community, the harder it is to gain access as an outsider. Small towns are notorious for being cliquey and unwelcoming to outsiders who can’t seem to gain access to the communities whose purpose and characteristics they share. Imagine how lonely it can be when a newcomer to a community can’t gain access to those communities that we all need to be a part of as social beings. It can be horribly lonely, and can drive many families and individuals to re-evaluate their choice in locations, and often drive them to move. If you really want to ensure your community has a bright future, you are going to need new people, and there is a very effective way to ensure they come, and stay.

Being a welcoming community means deliberately going out of your way to make newcomers, outsiders, and immigrants feel like they are part of the community. It means introducing yourself to someone new, and offering to help them get acquainted with what the community offers. It means finding out what sports or activities their kids are interested in, and connecting them with those services or sports. It means having them over for a barbeque to introduce them to your community of friends. It means seeking them out and making them feel like your community is their home. That is what being a welcoming community is all about.

It can be challenging to find a path to becoming a welcoming community. Success requires a community-wide initiative. It requires ensuring community members understand the real value to everyone in being welcoming. It’s hard work, but the pay off in terms of community success is worth it.

Doug Griffiths, Community Builder

Follow Doug on his 13 Ways Facebook page HERE

Extension of I-27/Ports to Plains Corridor

According to the Texas Freight Mobility Plan, “By 2040 over 73 percent of Texas’ population and 82 percent of the state’s employment is projected to be located within five miles of an interstate."

Has your organization considered the resolution supporting the Extension of Interstate 27?

Have you individually added your name supporting the Resolution?

Please share with your Texas Friends!

Please click here to add your personal name to the Resolution in Support of Expansion on Interstate 27

Please click here to downland a draft organizational resolution for consideration by local governments and non-profit organizations.  (Word Document) 

Upcoming Events


October 25-26, 2017 - High Ground of Texas Annual Meeting, Amarillo, Texas

November 14, 2017 - Rotary Club Presentation, Midland, Texas

January 23, 2018 - Quarterly Ports-to-Plains Board Meeting, Amarillo, Texas

 Ports-to-Plains Alliance Staff

Michael Reeves
5401 N MLK Blvd. #395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-2338
F: 806-775-3981

Duffy Hinkle
Vice President of Membership & Marketing
5401 N MLK Blvd. #395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-3373
F: 806-775-3981

Joe Kiely
Vice President of Operations
PO Box 9
Limon, CO 80828
P: 719-740-2240
F: 719-775-9073

Jeri Strong
Executive Assistant
Ports-To-Plains Alliance
5401 N. MLK Blvd. Ste. 395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-3369

Cal Klewin
Executive Director
Theodore Roosevelt Expressway
PO Box 1306
22 E Broadway
Williston, ND 58802
P: 701-523-6171

Deb Cottier
Board of Directors
Heartland Expressway Association
706 West Third St.
Chadron, NE 69337
P: 308-432-4023

Jay Slemp
Eastern Alberta Trade Corridor
212 2nd Ave. W
Box 820
Hanna AB T0J 1P0
P: 403-854-0424