It’s very likely that we will look back on this time period as the beginning of growth in Decatur and the surrounding communities.
Although no one can tell what the future holds, the community has poised itself well for that growth as evidenced by an event to launch the marketing of the Midwest Inland Port. The concept of the port began two years ago when Archer Daniels Midland Co. opened its intermodal rail facility. Efforts have intensified to increase the attractiveness of the port, which includes using Decatur’s rail, air and highway infrastructure to connect products to destinations around the world.
ADM was at the forefront again last week when president and CEO Juan Luciano announced the company’s $2 million investment in the National Foodworks Services project being developed in the former Brush College School. Luciano said the investment will turn the school into a food incubator with state-of-the-art equipment that fits with the company’s strategy of developing products using healthy ingredients.
Luciano also said ADM would be involved in a food and beverage challenge aimed at moving new ideas off the drawing board and onto the plates of customers.
ADM isn’t the only company involved in development of business surrounding the inland port. Ameren Illinois plans to make a $24.5 million investment in upgrading utilities so that can be a selling point. Decatur Memorial Hospital has also indicated their support for the development of the port and the community.
Companies outside of Decatur are committed as well, including Clayco, OmniTRAX Inc. and Canadian National Railway. Clayco, which is involved in about 40 projects a year, sees a lot of potential in the Midwest Inland Port and opportunities for local employees, including local labor union members.
“We have big things to come here in this community as long as we don’t set any obstacles, and we’re not going to do that,” Ryan McCrady, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macon County, said.
A few of those developments can already be seen in the community, as existing businesses expand and discover new ways to use the inland port concept to their advantage. There is a definite momentum in the community that is real.
Although it won’t necessarily happen overnight, that progress is likely to result in more good economic news. It will take hard work, and there will undoubtedly be setbacks along the way. But the future for the Decatur area looks bright indeed.