CEO: Take 'Close Look' at New Port

The Ports of Indiana-Jeffersonville is one of three ports throughout the state. The Ports of Indiana-Jeffersonville is one of three ports throughout the state.

The chief executive officer of the Ports of Indiana is supportive of Governor Mike Pence's call to vigorously explore a fourth state port, saying "we shouldn't miss an opportunity." Rich Cooper says a new port would be a welcome addition, as long as it doesn't siphon activity from the other three. The port system notched a record 2014, and through eleven months, he tells Inside INdiana Business, activity in 2015 is ahead of that pace.

Pence made the remarks about investigating an additional port Tuesday during his State of the State address in Indianapolis. He said it would be located along the Ohio River in southeast Indiana. The three current ports reside in Jeffersonville, Mt. Vernon and Portage, near respective greater metropolitan areas of Louisville, Evansville and Chicago.

Cooper says it's "extremely gratifying" to hear the governor recognize the ports on such a grand scale. He says the properties throughout the state and country are a finite resource and "once port land is gone, it's gone."

During the address, Pence suggested a new port could "unleash enormous economic investment throughout the southeast region of our state." Indeed, the Ports of Indiana says recent investments in the three ports have totaled more than $40 million. A study released in 2012 estimates the ports have a nearly $6.4 billion economic impact on the state annually, supporting more than 51,500 jobs.

Ports of Indiana CEO Rich Cooper says Indiana is in a unique position with its state-managed system that has locations in the Chicago, Louisville and Evansville metropolitan areas.
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