Construction of a new inland port at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers in Cairo, Ill., has taken another step forward. The Alexander-Cairo Port District has completed a project labor agreement (PLA) with the Illinois AFL-CIO that ensures that more than 500 jobs created by the construction of the Cairo port will be filled by local Illinois union workers.
The Alexander-Cairo port is one of the largest investments in Southern Illinois in decades. Eighty percent of U.S. inland barge traffic travels past Cairo, and the site is served by three major interstate highways and class 1 rail lines.
Cairo is protected from flooding by recently reinforced levees and remains a deep, ice-free site year-round.
STATE OF THE ART INFRASTRUCTURE
“The Cairo port district represents the best of Rebuild Illinois: investing in not only infrastructure, but also jobs and economic prosperity for a region left out for far too long,” said Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker on the occasion of the signing. “Thanks to the Alexander Cairo Port District and the Illinois AFL-CIO, more than 500 Illinois workers and their families will have access to good union jobs in the next stages of the port’s construction—opportunities that couldn’t come at a better time for the people of Illinois. Our building trades are top notch, and I have every faith the team on the ground will deliver the state-of-the-art infrastructure Southern Illinois deserves.”
“The Cairo Port is exactly the kind of project Illinois needs,” said Tim Drea, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. “This port has the potential to transform the region and the men and women of Illinois organized labor have the talent to build it. Our craftsmen and tradesmen are second to none and we can’t wait to show it yet again on the Cairo Port project.”
“We are ensuring that the jobs and economic growth created by this port flow back to Cairo and the surrounding region,” said Larry Klein, chairman of the Alexander Cairo Port District. “This labor agreement is another reason why the Cairo Port will be a game changer for Southern Illinois.”
“We are building a world-class port in Cairo and need the highest quality labor force to make it happen,” said Todd Ely, lead consultant for the port district and president of Ely Consulting Group. “We know we can depend on the women and men of Illinois’ building trades to make this project a success.”
In August 2020, Pritzker announced that the Rebuild Illinois capital plan would provide $40 million in state funding for construction of the port. The Port District is securing additional private investment and will structure the Cairo port as a public-private partnership.
Major logistics and commodities businesses have already committed to using the new port to move crops, container shipments and bulk products once it is completed.