EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is a Q&A with Kansas City Southern rail officials conducted with the Illinois Business Journal in advance of a March press conference to announce plans for a rail and truck logistics hub in Jersey County. The questions and answers were submitted in writing and have been edited for space.
What is proposed for the site? What is going to be built in the near term and over time? And what role will KCS take?
The development in Jerseyville will be called the Mid-American International Gateway Business Park. The controlling party and financier of the development, Stonemont Financial, will build out the team of companies that will help sell the concept of the site. KCS’ role is simply to provide rail service to the business park. At this time, KCS is not able to discuss any specifics on buildings or customers that would locate at the site.
The concept is to build a multi-use rail- and truck-served logistics park that is in an Economic Enterprise Zone to provide companies a tax-related benefit to locate their production and/or distribution facilities in Jerseyville. Both the access to interstate highways and the KCS rail network that operates in 10 U.S. states and into Mexico, make the park attractive to potential clients.
Tim Carr (KCS official) is being credited by Jerseyville officials for advancing the idea. How did he come up with it and why Jerseyville as opposed to hundreds of other communities?
The concept of distribution hubs is common in the rail industry and growing in the current retail distribution environment. The growth of e-commerce has led many companies to find new solutions for regional distribution of goods in geographically-centered, population-centric, highway-accessible and affordable locations. The City of Jerseyville, Ill. is located in the northeastern portion of the KCS rail network with access to interstate highways and close proximity without the congestion of a major city. There is significant population within a 250-mile radius, as well as affordable land and employment. Tim Carr and the KCS team are focused on creating great solutions for our customers.
Jerseyville officials have said the value of this project could be as much as a billion dollars and the number of employees at well over 1,000. Does KCS see that as a possibility, given what it knows about other similar projects?
KCS is pleased to have the opportunity to serve the park, and will support the various parties’ efforts to help it succeed. We understand that there are economic studies that would support the investment and estimated employment numbers for this concept. Each project is unique to its own region, the business transactions that take place, the production of goods, the distribution model of truck/rail/barge/air freight for that region, and the population for consumption.
What will be the advantages of a Midwest rail hub such as this?
KCS is the only rail network that can move freight between the U.S. and Mexico without interchanging with another rail provider. The KCS customer base can achieve long-term rate value and service consistency by using one network. Accessibility to emerging markets in Mexico and the U.S. is another advantage.
Has KCS worked with Stonemont Financial Group’s backing on previous projects and what was the result?
Stonemont Financial is the financier of another rail-served business park investment in El Campo, Texas. KCS has been pleased with Stonemont Financial’s approach in El Campo, and we anticipate great benefits to the railroad from their investment.
What is the timetable for the work? What will happen this year? What will happen long range?
Development of the business park is a long-term decision initiative by the financier. Projects like these generally take several years to develop and achieve the necessary approvals, incentives, infrastructure, and community support. Development schedules and timing will be available later in 2018.
Answers provided by C. Doniele Carlson, AVP Corporate Communications & Community Affairs.