Erik Varela has been named executive director of the Illinois International Port District (IIPD.), an Illinois municipal corporation created to promote the shipment of cargoes and commerce through its facilities.
“To truly compete on a global scale, the Illinois International Port District needs to capitalize on its intersection of waterways, rail and roads that make it an attractive and efficient center for the passage of goods and resources,” said Ivan Solis, IIPD Chairman. “The IIPD manages the various stakeholders who use the port, that is why I am proud that Erik Varela will serve as Executive Director. Erik brings extensive logistics, real estate and transportation experience. His leadership and expertise will ensure the region capitalizes on the IIPD.”
The IIPD is the owner and master landlord controlling two land areas in South Chicago: the Iroquois Landing Terminal, an open paved terminal with 3,000 linear feet of ship and barge berthing space located at the mouth of the Calumet River in the southwest corner of Lake Michigan; and Senator Dan Dougherty Harbor (Lake Calumet Terminal) which encompasses approximately 1,600 acres of land and currently is home to various harbor operations and terminals located at the junction of the Grand Calumet and Little Calumet Rivers, situated six miles inland from Lake Michigan. The IIPD’s harbor facilities are served by rail facilities and are adjacent to three interstate highways and feature a number of warehouse facilities,
Varela, who will be the port’s first Latino leader, most recently served as senior director of public affairs for Union Pacific Railroad, where he was responsible for leading all legislative, governmental and community relations activities in Illinois and Wisconsin on behalf of Union Pacific. Prior to Union Pacific, he worked for fifteen years at various levels of local government.
“I am honored to be appointed to serve as the executive director of the Illinois International Port District at such an important time for Chicago and Illinois,” said Varela. “I look forward to building on the momentum of the IIPD and continue to support its growth as one of the most important domestic and international trade hubs so that it may continue to attract economic development and spur prosperity for the region.”