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Ports-to-Plains Alliance

Friday
May122017

Secretary Perdue announces creation of Undersecretary for Trade

American Journal of Transportation

May 12, 2017

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny PerdueCincinnati, OH - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a recognition of the ever-increasing importance of international trade to American agriculture. Perdue made the announcement standing by barges filled with agricultural products along the banks of the Ohio River. As part of a reorganization of USDA, Perdue also announced the standing up of a newly-named Farm Production and Conservation mission area to have a customer focus and meet USDA constituents in the field. Finally, Perdue announced that the department’s Rural Development agencies would be elevated to report directly to the secretary of agriculture in recognition of the need to help promote rural prosperity.

Perdue issued a report to announce the changes, which address Congressional direction in the 2014 Farm Bill to create the new undersecretary for trade and also are a down payment on President Trump’s request of his cabinet to deliver plans to improve the accountability and customer service provided by departments.

Read on...

Wednesday
May102017

Global Supply Chains Explained … in One Graphic

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

May 10, 2017

Boeing Airplane that shows how different parts come from different places to make one plane
Global supply chains are complicated and critical, with many moving pieces.

The economic security of all businesses is on the line, and breaking down barriers and global borders unleashes the potential for increased competitiveness.

In an effort to simplify the importance of global supply chains, take a look at the graphic above.

Many pieces – from across the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia – with one grand result: a Boeing 787. Get the picture?

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Tuesday
May022017

Trump Open to Raising Gas Tax, Says Truckers Back Higher Price for Highways

Transport Topics

May 2, 2017

President Donald Trump said he’s willing to raise the U.S. gas tax to fund infrastructure development and called the tax-overhaul plan he released last week the beginning of negotiations.

“It’s something that I would certainly consider,” Trump said May 1 in an interview with Bloomberg News in the Oval Office, describing the idea as supported by truckers “if we earmarked money toward the highways.”

Trump released a tax plan April 26 that would cut the maximum corporate tax rate to 15% from the current 35%. The same reduced rate would apply to partnerships and other “pass-through” businesses

He said he is willing to lose provisions of his tax plan in negotiations with Congress but refused to specify which parts. He also repeated his call for a “reciprocal tax,” which would be aimed at imposing levies on imports to match the rates that each country charges on U.S. exports.

Read on...

Tuesday
May022017

Getting more out of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance Corridor

May 2, 2017

One of the exciting things about traveling the Ports-to-Plains Alliance Corridor is seeing the economic development benefits of the increased number of travelers along the corridor.  Over the past couple of years, small towns have seen new hotels and truck stops… Dumas, TX; Stratford, TX; Boise City, OK; Eads, CO and Brush, CO have all seen this type of growth and there are others.

The question that is often asked is, what can we do to get even more economic benefit?  Our member, the Town of Limon, found one way to create a community vision designed to increase the economic benefit of its highway corridor as well as its quality of life.  Limon, a town with a population of under 2,000, rests at a highway hub where five major highways come together including the Ports-to-Plains Corridor and Interstate 70.  This small town, once bypassed by Interstate 70, has seen significant economic growth over the years including numerous truck stops, hotels, restaurants and convenience stores. Yet, the town continues to evaluate its potential and found that many of the travelers had no idea of the destinations available off the town’s highway interchanges. Despite reaching about 80,000 lodging nights a year, most visitors never explored the rest of the town to find out what was there.  Few recognized the cultural experience of the Limon Heritage Museum, the recreation opportunities offered by the Tamarack Golf Course, swimming pool, and fishing pond or the entertainment options of a historical movie theatre, bowling alley and local restaurants.

When Limon updated its Comprehensive Plan in 2014-15, it focused on economic development. The local citizens recognized the value of the transportation system including the Ports-to-Plains Corridor, but also recognized that they could still do better.  As a result multiple goals in the Comp Plan addressed the need to explore ways to provide the visitors a better understanding of what this small town had to offer, in the short and long term, and ways to encourage those travelers to #ExploreLimon. CLICK HERE to view or download the Comprehensive Plan.

These goals led the Town to apply on a national basis to host a Citizens’ Institute on Rural Designä (CIRD).  The CIRD program is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, USDA-Rural Development, Project for Public Spaces and Orton Family Foundation.  Limon was one of seven (7) communities across the nation to be selected from the 52 applications.  Following eight months of preparation, the CIRD workshop was held over a three-day period, February 27-March 1, 2017.  The Workshop included presentations focusing on wayfaring/signage and development of bicycle/pedestrian trails, but the majority of time was spent with community members creating visions for these two topics. The community was joined by National and State Resource Teams which brought significant expertise and energy to the small community. 

To see the final report, please CLICK HERE.  There are some great ideas included in the report for small community implementation.

For more information on CIRD, CLICK HERE.

As a result of the CIRD Workshop, the State Resource Team opened an even larger door to explore and implement not only the visions for wayfaring/signage and bicycle/pedestrian paths but many of the other projects included in the Comprehensive Plan.  The State Resource team has offered to host another project funders meeting to hear Limon’s “Grand Plan” and make commitment for funding a variety of long term community projects.  The transportation system continues to be a huge catalyst for accomplishing any of the goals and objectives defined during the planning process.  Without that transportation system, it is hard to picture Limon’s economy and quality of life.  That is one reason for Limon’s commitment to the Ports-to-Plains Alliance. 

Limon’s economic plans are not limited to increasing and improving the visitors’ numbers and experience.  You will see in the Comp Plan that the community is also supporting of efforts to recruit primary jobs.  During the same period Limon was granted the authority to operate a Foreign Trade Zone and continues to look to provide a base for manufacturing, assembly and distribution.

Rural communities need to find ways to create the vision of their community for the future.  Hanging on to the status quo is not vision.  If you have questions, please contact Joe Kiely, who serves Ports-to-Plains Alliance as its Vice President of Operations (719-740-2240 – joe.kiely@portstoplains.com)

Monday
May012017

That Grantham speech on doomed transportation bill may haunt the Capitol

Colorado Senate President Kevin Grantham,Ports-to-Plains Alliance would like to express its appreciation to Colorado Senate President Kevin Grantham for his sponsorship of HB 17-1242. His impassioned words prior to the final vote in the Senate Finance Committee were spot on.

The Colorado Statesman

May 1, 2017

“We do worry about the Balkanization of our state roads system. If Colorado Springs and then northern Colorado and other RTAs start passing their own [funding and development plans], there will be donut holes throughout the state that will be left out of improvements and will never get the improvements that are needed. Maybe that’s the preferred solution for some. It’s not for me… But that is the direction we are heading, and I think it’s a dangerous one…” 

“I don’t know what would happen if it went to the people… But I know, without a doubt, that if it doesn’t get on the ballot, then it will definitely never pass. We only get so many bites at the apple — I’ve heard that a lot today — but if the number of bites we get is exactly zero, then zero is the result we will get.”

The session’s unloved grand bipartisan transportation measure, House Bill 1242, is dead, but the closing remarks — you might say the sickbed epitaph — delivered for the bill by Republican sponsor and Senate President Kevin Grantham are worth revisiting, especially given that, in the last week, and with a little more than a week left in the legislative session, three new transportation-related bills have been introduced.

Grantham spoke right before the bill was dispatched Tuesday by the Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee, addressing the bill and its critics with words that might come to resonate beyond the committee hearing, even if in a ghostlike way, floating into remarks made years from now by lawmakers begging please for someone somehow to expand I-25 south of Castle Rock or to find a way to get their aged mother or father to the doctor in the middle of the day.

Grantham said running this year’s bill was a brave and bold move. He said the bill was unloved on the left and the right because drumming up billions for much-needed transportation upgrades in a politically and ideologically divided swing state was always going to be — and is long likely going to be — a slog.

He said people in the Capitol have to begin seeing transportation in new ways, and doing that is hard to do. He suggested that the long era of roads and more roads and single-occupancy privately owned vehicles no longer serves the population of the state the way it once did — and particularly the state’s younger and older populations — and that transit, meaning mass-transit, is popular with residents even if it’s unpopular with lawmakers.

Read on… 

Tuesday
Apr252017

With NAFTA, Mexico and the U.S. build things together 

The Dallas Morning News

April 25, 2017

Since NAFTA was signed 24 years ago in my hometown of San Antonio, U.S. trade with Mexico and Canada has more than tripled, and there is no question that Texas has benefited the most. With easy access to two of the busiest U.S. ports of entry via land and sea — Laredo and Houston — it is no surprise that Texas exported more than any other state in 2014, almost $300 billion-worth to countries worldwide. Across the U.S., all but ten states depend on Canada or Mexico as their largest export markets.

While "free trade" has been blamed for job losses in many parts of the nation, as of 2014 nearly five million jobs across the U.S. depend on trade with Mexico. These jobs are not just in Texas. In 2015, Mexico was the first or second export destination for 30 out of 50 states.

Read on...

Tuesday
Apr252017

A reelection challenge (almost) as big as Texas

The Washington Post

April 25, 2017

Texas Rep. Will HurdTORNILLO, Tex. — Midterm elections are known to be brutal on the party in power, and if there is an anti-Republican wave in 2018, look for it to touch shore right here.

The vast, volatile 23rd Congressional District of Texas is bigger in area than 29 states. It stretches from San Antonio to El Paso and includes about one-third of the entire U.S.-Mexico border.

Its overwhelmingly Latino electorate last year went for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential race. But it also reelected a Republican to the U.S. House — one of fewer than two dozen in the country to split that way.

Rep. Will Hurd narrowly won a second term in what turned out to be the most expensive House race in Texas history. Democrats have put Hurd’s seat in their top five targets in 2018. He will also be running to beat the fickle tendencies of a district that has ousted four different incumbents since 2006.

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Thursday
Apr202017

Colorado lawmakers’ grand bargain on transportation appears doomed

The Denver Post

April 20, 2017

The Colorado legislative session’s top priority, a major transportation bill that seeks a tax hike to improve and expand highways, is unlikely to win approval this term.

Senate President Kevin Grantham, a Cañon City Republican and one of the prime sponsors, announced Thursday morning that he does not have the votes to move it through the GOP-led chamber.

“At this point, we can’t count to three,” he said, describing the number of votes he needs to advance it through the Senate Finance Committee next week.

The bill sponsors continue to work to secure support, but Grantham did not express optimism that the vote total would shift. House Bill 1242 won approval in the Democratic-led House earlier this year but faced tougher obstacles in the Senate because it would ask voters for a 0.5 percent sales tax hike to generate money for a $3.5 billion bond package for roads.

Read on...