Bill seeks to encourage growth at Missouri ports

Missouri’s river ports provide crucial links to international trade—moving more than $4 billion in cargo annually.

A bill heard in a Missouri House committee would seek to capitalize on that activity by creating new tax incentives for development in and around Missouri’s port complexes.

Missouri’s location provides ample access to river freight transportation options—both the Mississippi and Missouri rivers flow beside and through the state for more than 500 miles. This access to two major inland waterways led to the development of 14 public ports across Missouri since 1974. In 2013, these ports shipped 5 million tons of goods, according to the Missouri Port Authority Association.

House Bill 110, sponsored by Rep. John McCaherty, a Republican from High Ridge, proposes to create three new tax credits intended to spur more growth at these port locations.

“This is a way for us to grow our ports through public/private partnerships,” said Rep. McCaherty during a Missouri Transportation Committee hearing on Feb. 3.

The bill creates three new tax credits. The credits could be claimed by companies that increase their use of Missouri’s ports, by businesses that choose to ship by water or rail instead of highways and by international trade companies that add new employees or make capital investments. Together, the tax credits could cost the state a maximum of $6 million each year.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports this effort.

Rep. McCaherty said other states have seen success using similar models. He said that Missouri should act now to help bolster our port system as the Panama Canal expansion prepares to open in 2016.

“States like Missouri … stand to gain from the increase in international trade,” Rep. McCaherty said.

Mark Coulter, vice president and general counsel for the Port Authority of Kansas City, said the measures in Rep. McCaherty’s bill would greatly assist the Port Authority of Kansas City and would “foster economic development around ports.”

Coulter said the increased investment and traffic through he state’s ports would generate additional revenue that could be reinvested into infrastructure.

Rep. McCaherty noted that his bill has been debated during previous legislative sessions without passage. He said he has continued to refine his legislation, adding safeguards including a sunset on the tax credits, regular reporting of return on investment and a ban on transferring the tax credits. He hopes these precautions will help the bill become law in 2015.

“I think it’s important for us to do something in the state of Missouri,” Rep. McCaherty said.

For more information, contact Tracy King, Missouri Chamber vice president of governmental affairs, at tking@mochamber.com, or by phone at 573-634-3511.

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About mochamber

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry understands that the quality of life in our state depends on quality jobs for Missourians. To that end, we have one simple mission: to protect and advance Missouri business.

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