Your Connection to the

Ports-to-Plains Region

November 1, 2016

Volume Number 14
Issue Number 21

I was very pleased when I saw on the news this morning that this weekend marks the end of daylight savings time and we get an extra hour of sleep Saturday night. For those of us in the southern portions of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor, that means that cotton harvest is fast approaching, while farmers further north are well into, if not finished with the fall harvest.

This is important to us at the Ports-to-Plains Alliance because it shows the importance of transportation to our local economies. Most of us live in small, rural communities that produce tremendous amounts of agriculture products. We truly are North America’s agricultural heartland and our ag producers feed and clothe the world. But if our farmers and ranchers are to be successful, they must be able to get their products to market. Some people may think that means getting your crop to the cotton gin or the grain elevator, but that is stopping well short.

Today our farmers compete in a global market, and our transportation system must connect us if we are to be competitive. I have heard it said many times that the first highways in Texas state system were designed to get the farmer out of the mud and the crops to market. In many ways that is still true today, however the marketplace is a much larger place than just the next town over.

 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.

Extension of I-27/Ports to Plains Corridor

This section will become a regular part of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance newsletter. It will be designed to help our members and others to better understand the current status of and the opportunities presented by the Extension of the 1-27/Ports-to-Plains Corridor in Texas.


“The I-27/P2P corridor has the opportunity to serve as a major gateway for goods traveling from Mexico to Canada and the many destinations in between. The current Interstate system in Texas used to move freight is at or above operating capacity and additional freight routes are needed to ensure that Texas remains economically competitive into future decades.”

From Initial Assessment Report – Extension of the I-27/Ports-to-Plains Corridor, November 2015

Keeping Rural America Competitive

If you missed the first five of the series Agri-pulse is publishing to give readers some perspective on the history and status of America's infrastructure and improvements needed to help farmers and ranchers remain competitive, prosperous and enjoying a strong quality of life, please Read on...

Agri-Pulse No. 6 -- Keeping Rural America Competitive

Next generation of infrastructure requires winning the talent war

“People are critical to our future - manage this resource wisely!”

That's the handwritten advice from Merdith Temple, a former acting commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in a memo outlining its Human Capital Strategic Plan for 2012-2017.

In order to continue to provide the best service to the nation, Temple wrote that the agency - charged with building and maintaining hundreds of dams, navigation channels and harbors - must “prevent talent loss; shape the workforce of the future, and win the war for talent.”

The report went on to outline a hiring “battleground” that's become far more challenging for employers in both the public and private sectors since the time this plan was released in 2012.

Consider some of these factors. Read on…

Agri-Pulse No. 7 -- Keeping Rural America Competitive

The prickly political path for new infrastructure investments

The pace of building new infrastructure and repairing the old is proceeding more robustly than most people observe, yet is also likely to quicken in the years ahead. What's more, the sources of infrastructure funding and what Americans mean by infrastructure are both destined to become more diverse.

Consider that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is promising a five-year, $275 billion infrastructure building campaign, and that her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, not to be outdone, is doubling down on Clinton's envisioned initiative. In addition, Congress and many state legislatures in recent years have started to up their antes for transportation and other infrastructure. All told, the prospect for significant improvements is brightening.

But promises from officials in big cities don't haul rice to the mill or hogs to the slaughter plant.

Like many farmers and others in agribusinesses, Bert Farrish, chief executive for Louisiana- and Arkansas-based Big River Rice and Grain, judges cargo-moving infrastructure in the arena where they operate. And, he says, “I would say it is woefully inadequate in a lot of areas. Certainly in our area, bridges and roads need substantial improvement.”
With world population now forecast to swell by 2.4 billion people by about 2050, Farrish says he knows the demand for commodities and the network to move them must keep growing. “Just think about increasing our crop yields that much to feed the world - how much more traffic is going to be on those little two-lane roads. They're already moving hundreds of millions of dollars with thousands of trucks constantly all year long. So it is going to take a revolution in policy and thinking about the infrastructure if we're going to be a part of the global solution to feeding a changing world,” he says.

To improve the infrastructure outlook, he says, “Our biggest challenge … is to communicate what the problem is to our elected representatives.” Most urban lawmakers, he believes, “have no feeling for what it's like to be in rural Iowa and need infrastructure improvements. They really don't understand Louisiana or Arkansas or Mississippi and the impact all of this agriculture has on the U.S. economy.” Read on…


USDOT Requests Applications for $850 Million in FASTLANE Transportation Infrastructure Grants

Second Call for Submissions Follows High-Demand for Inaugural FASTLANE Grants

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau is now soliciting applications for up to $850 million in Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grants.

The FASTLANE program was established in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to fund critical freight and highway projects across the country. The FAST Act authorized the program at $4.5 billion for fiscal years (FY) 2016 through 2020, including $850 million for FY 2017 to be awarded by the Secretary of Transportation.

“Across the country, there are sidelined projects that are essential to America’s cities and our transportation network, and leveraging a FASTLANE grant from the Build America Bureau can move many of these projects forward,” said Secretary Foxx. “FASTLANE grants give us an opportunity to identify and invest strategically in those projects that are critical to keeping our nation’s economic engine running.”

In the first call for FASTLANE grants, USDOT received 212 applications totaling nearly $9.8 billion for grants – with states and localities requesting over 13 times more funding than was available through FASTLANE – underscoring the continuing need for infrastructure investment across the country. Of the 212 applications received, 136 represented projects in urban areas, while the remaining 76 supported rural projects. The need to support projects improving the Nation’s freight system is also highlighted in the Department’s report, Beyond Traffic 2045: Trends and Choices, where freight volume is expected to grow to 29 billion tons—an increase by 45 percent by the year 2040.

The deadline for submitting applications is 8:00PM on December 15, 2016. The Department of Transportation will review all eligible applications submitted at

5 Facts to Set the Record Straight in the Great Trade Debate

Michael L. Ducker
President and CEO, FedEx Freight
Immediate Past Chair and Chairman of the Executive Committee, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the U.S. took the lead in framing a global, rules-based trading system based on the principles of reciprocity, non-discrimination and openness. Successive rounds of tariff-cutting negotiations over half a century helped increase world trade from $58 billion in 1948 to $23 trillion today.

No country benefited more from this expansion of trade than the U.S. Overall, trade today supports 41 million U.S. jobs--more than 1 of every five in our nation--and has raised the income of the average American household by $13,600 per year.

International trade plays a vital role in creating new opportunities for American businesses and growing our nation’s economy. At its core, international trade is a two-way street. The U.S. exports goods and services--like aircraft equipment and agricultural crops, and we import products produced in other countries, such as oil, clothing and steel.

Exports create new markets for American made products and allow our businesses to reach the 95% of the world’s consumers living across our borders and over the oceans.

Imports secure materials needed to create American products. Imports also help American families stretch their budgets by providing more choices and lower prices. In short, both imports and exports help create a more vibrant and efficient economy for all of us.

Trade is a two-way street that should not be road blocked or will become a dead end.

Trade is getting its fair share of attention this presidential campaign. Trade agreements, including NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, are often described passionately–but not necessarily accurately–these days in campaign rallies.

Given the amount of misinformation and just outright distortions about trade during this year’s political campaign, I’d like to set the record straight with some facts.

  1. Trade is Good for—and Critical to—the American Economy
  2. Trade Benefits Businesses of All Sizes
  3. Market Access and Ecommerce Have Changed the World of Trade
  4. Trade Agreements Help America Compete with Other Nations
  5. American Workers and Businesses Need the Trans-Pacific Partnership

 Read on…

Economic Developers! The Project: Inside Corporate Location Decisions

Development Counsellors International is pleased to announce the launch of “The Project: Inside Corporate Location Decisions,” a new podcast that takes an inside look at the most recent company location announcements. Every two weeks, we’ll follow the trail of a new site selection decision, interviewing key individuals from both the company and community perspective.

Our first three episodes detail projects with iCIMS (“Fast Growth Tech Company Finds New Home in Old Space”), Dana Incorporated (“If You Build It…Dana, Toledo and the Spec Building”) and CAEK (“Go West Young Firm”). Future episodes will explore recent site selection decisions by Charles Schwab, Gerhardi and Alorica. Link to The Project…

Economic Developers: The Most Tax-Friendly States for Corporate Expansion

I have found that economic incentives are an excellent way to offset a company’s tax obligations especially in states with excessive tax rates. Economic incentives have been used for decades to help level the playing field between low and high tax states competing for a project.

Tax conditions play a critical role in the site selection process for companies seeking a business-friendly tax climate for their operations. For 20 years in the site selection industry I have seen many companies eliminate states during the early-stage site selection process due to business climate factors such as corporate tax, income tax, property tax, unemployment insurance rates and sales taxes.

To help stay on top of the latest business tax conditions, I have always found The Tax Foundation to be one of the best business-tax monitoring resources in the United States. In its “2017 State Business Tax Climate Index,” the foundation identifies the best and worst states based on business tax climate and names a few states that have jumped up the rankings through revised tax policies.   Read on...

Upcoming Events


November 1 - Colorado Transportation Summit, Denver, CO

December 10-11 - Western States Transportation Alliance 2016 Issue Summit


September 12-14 - 20th Annual Ports-to-Plains Alliance Conference, Lubbock, TX

 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

Fernando Madero
Vice President of Mexico Operations
Jazmines 123, Torreon Jardin
Torreon, Mexico
P: 011 52 (871) 120 1030

Joe Kiely
Vice President of Operations
PO Box 9
Limon, CO 80828
P: 303-586-1787
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

Richard "Buzz" David
Economic and Business Development
5629 NE Foster Rd.
Bainbridge Island, WA  09110
P: 806-678-3160

Cal Klewin
Executive Director
Theodore Roosevelt Expressway
PO Box 1306
22 E Broadway
Williston, ND 58802
P: 701-577-8110

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