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American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

Port of Chicago strives for resurgence

Clayton Harris III, executive director for the Illinois International Port District at the Port of Chicago, is pushing for the passage of House Bill 1797, which would forgive a $15 million debt the port assumed in 1980.

   Clayton Harris III, executive director for the Illinois International Port District at the Port of Chicago, discussed his plans to initiate a resurgence at the port during the 2017 Rail Supply Chain Summit held Wednesday in the “Windy City.”
   The main thing we need to do is “get our financial house in order,” said Harris, who took the helm as executive director last year.
   Harris is pushing for the passage of House Bill 1797, which would forgive a $15 million debt the port assumed in 1980. The bill has passed through the state’s House and Senate, and is now waiting on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature.
   In the last 37 years, the port has not made one payment on this loan, and has not been required to since certain covenants were not met. Although the port is not in violation of anything, it makes it difficult to get banks to work with the port, Harris said.
   If the bill is signed, the port district does not automatically receive $15 million, but it allows the district to erase the debt from its books, and the state will not lose the money, he explained. The capital development board testified in a committee hearing that they wrote that loan off 36 years ago.
   “This truly is allowing the port to get on its economic feet and start moving,” he said.
   The port district will also publish its “five-year strategic plan” soon, once it gets approved by the nine-member board, Harris said.
   In regards to future developments, Harris said he will focus on making the port district a “world class multimodal facility.” He said he will focus on boosting interconnectivity with different modes such as rail and truck, and how to move goods more efficiently between those two modes to and from the water.

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