The Stafford County Port Authority has been in the works for several years.
The Stafford County Port Authority is looking to develop a transload facility with an industrial park that connects to the rail and highway systems.
Essentially, a port authority is able to develop and oversee a location (port) to receive and transfer cargo or freight.
The legal framework is in place, land has been identified, and designs have been engineered.
In January 2021, the County Commissioners to appointed members to the Port Authority Board.
The Board has publish a Plan for Development to receive public comment. The hearing is scheduled for April 21, 2021 at 8:00 AM in the County Annex (210 E. 2nd Ave, St. John).
A concurrent resolution was passed in the Kansas Legislature authorizing the creation of a port authority in Stafford County (SCR 1620).
Stafford County passed a resolution authorizing the creation of a port authority.
More exploration and in-depth research related to port development began. The County hired Dr. Keith Harris to conduct a Port Authority Feasibility Study. This study was completed in April 2019.
Sites throughout the county were evaluated for potential port development. Stafford EcoDevo received a $150,000 grant for engineering and legal expenses related to port development.
The next Port Authority Board Meeting is TBD,
at the County Annex (210 E. 3rd Ave, St. John).
This is an open meeting and members of the public
are welcome to come and observe.
A public hearing on the proposed Plan for Development is scheduled for 8:00 AM on
April 21, 2021 at the County Annex (210 E. 3rd Ave, St. John).
This is an opportunity for the public to comment on the proposed plan.
What is a Port Authority?
A port authority is a quasi-governmental or special use district authorized to operate transportation infrastructure. Typically, it owns land and infrastructure (a port) and leases access to that infrastructure to companies that ship goods.
What would that look like in Stafford County?
Given our location and economy, the Port Authority is looking to develop a transload facility with an industrial park. Establishing a loop railroad track that could accommodate unit trains (100+ railcars) and transfer facility, would allow trains and trucks to receive and transfer cargo like grain.
What is a transload facility?
A transload facility is a place where freight is moved from rail to highway or highway to rail. Currently, there is no public intermodal transload facility serving the western half of Kansas. Filling this need could be good business for Stafford County and the region because having a public transload facility would allow small to medium-size businesses to secure better freight rates by combining their smaller loads into unit trains.
Why is it needed?
The described port would allow for more commerce and industrial development. Our area exports a lot of grain and a transload facility would allow for more economical transportation of this commodity. Also, having a designated industrial park that is ready for development would be advantageous in attracting businesses to locate in our county, especially since it would be connected to both the rail and highway systems. As ironic as it may seem when you see empty storefronts and wide-open spaces, finding available space in undeveloped land or even existing buildings can be a significant barrier to getting started. There has been more than one large opportunity for business relocation or expansion to our county missed because of this.
How would will this be funded?
The Port Authority would be funded through fees and leases to the port. The port development would be a public-private partnership. The Port Authority could fund the purchase of land and develop foundational infrastructure through a number of state and federal grants. A grant was already received and used for initial engineering and legal costs. Discussions are underway with a grain export company to anchor the facility and it is expected that they would invest $10 million in infrastructure to support their operations and use of the port.
Where will it be?
In 2020, several sites throughout the county were evaluated with preliminary engineering options. The current proposed location is south of St. John adjacent to the BSNF Railroad. More specifics will be released once the newly appointed Port Authority Board publishes development plans for public comment.
In 2018, Stafford EcoDevo and Stafford County partnered together and contracted with a professor at Kansas State University's Ag Economics department to conduct a feasibility study that completed in the spring of 2019. The purpose of a feasibility study was to assess the viability of a business proposition - an intermodal grain handling facility - with an assessment of alternative sources of warehousing and storage from ownership, to rental, to strategic alliance opportunities.
The Port Feasibility Study showed that a public-private partnership that shared the cost of infrastructure development would create the most likely scenario for a successful venture. It also showed there would be local economic benefit through job creation, additional property tax base, and higher grain prices to local farmers.
Send us a message with any questions or concerns, and we'll get back to you with answers as soon as we can.