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Ports-to-Plains Region

December 19, 2017

Volume Number 15
Issue Number 25

This is our final newsletter of 2017.  It has been a very busy and productive year for the Ports-to-Plains Alliance.  Our members will soon be receiving their Report Card of accomplishments along with their annual membership dues invoice, and I think you will appreciate the progress we have made.  We are also excited looking forward to 2018 with the opportunities to make even more strides to advance Ports-to-Plains.  Of course none of this is possible without your support.  We thank you for backing Ports-to-Plains and encourage you to join with us in several opportunities to participate and have a positive impact on our region.  Finally Happy Holidays to all of you!  I hope that you enjoy some time away with family, relax and return in 2018 ready to hit the ground running. 

 Michael Reeves, President

We are a voice for our small town, grassroots members who may otherwise not have access to the right audiences, as well as a conduit for industry to come together in support and promotion of transportation improvements.

We are committed to working as an Alliance to improve transportation infrastructure and business networks opportunities, by advocating for appropriate funding levels, so business and industry can thrive.

We are focused on the economic and business interests that are the lifeblood of the region.



Agriculture Sows Support for NAFTA 

NAFTA continues to be top of mind as the latest round of negotiations on modernizing the trade agreement concluded late last month.

Knowing the harm it would have on American agriculture, elected officials and advocacy groups are making the case to President Trump not to withdraw from NAFTA.

At a lunch with the president on Tuesday, Sen. Joni Ernst defended the 23-year-old trade agreement:

“Today, I stressed to (them) the importance of maintaining NAFTA and the duty-free access our (agriculture) products enjoy under it,” Ernst said in a statement later.

“Trade plays a critical role in Iowa’s economy and I reiterated to the administration the importance of ensuring Iowans remain competitive in the global market — provided our trading partners are operating on a level playing field.

“I will continue working to ensure that any changes made to NAFTA do not hurt our crop and livestock producers.”

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), chairman of the Agriculture Committee, took to The Hill to point out what NAFTA means for farmers, ranchers, and the agricultural industry:

The facts speak for themselves, especially for my home state of Kansas. In 2016 alone, Kansas exported more than $300 million agriculture goods to our northern neighbor. Since NAFTA entered into force on Jan. 1, 1994, the value of U.S. agricultural exports to Canada has increased by 265 percent and to Mexico by 289 percent.

Last month, Sens. Roberts and Ted Cruz (R-TX) spoke at the U.S. Chamber on the opportunities for modernizing NAFTA.

At the same time Senators pitched President Trump, agricultural groups and their supporters showed support for NAFTA on social media.

Fourteen million Americans have their jobs supported by trade with Canada and Mexico. Modernizing NAFTA is the sensible course to maintain U.S. competitiveness, but abandoning a trade agreement that’s helped farmers, businesses, workers, and families would be disastrous.

Read on...

The US can’t forget the benefits NAFTA has provided

Facts are stubborn things. And it’s a fact that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has boosted the American economy for over 20 years.

As renegotiations of the trade pact are well underway, we need to take a good clear look at NAFTA and the undeniable benefits of trade with two of our closest partners — Canada and Mexico.

The facts speak for themselves, especially for my home state of Kansas. In 2016 alone, Kansas exported more than $300 million agriculture goods to our northern neighbor. Since NAFTA entered into force on Jan. 1, 1994, the value of U.S. agricultural exports to Canada has increased by 265 percent and to Mexico by 289 percent.
From agriculture to aviation, NAFTA has benefited my home state of Kansas tremendously. Wichita, Kan., has long been known as the “Air Capital of the World” for our highly skilled workforce and for being the foremost aerospace manufacturing center. Since 1994, Canada has been one of the top export markets for the aerospace industry.

After more than two decades of NAFTA being in force, it makes sense to take a look at areas of the agreement that can be modernized and strengthened.

Could we have done things better negotiating NAFTA? Yes. Can we still do things better renegotiating NAFTA? Absolutely.

However, we must not forget that Canada has long been one of our most reliable and important partners. Multiple times, we have fought side by side to ensure the security of our nations.

Part of that steadfast reliability stems from our mutually beneficial trading relationship. We cannot afford to let this investment go to waste.

Read on...

Rural poverty skyrockets as jobs move away

The number of rural Americans living in poverty has skyrocketed in recent years amidst an economic evolution that has cost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing and mining jobs.

Poverty rates have also increased in the nation’s urban cores, which have generally recovered more quickly from the worst recession in modern history.

The difference is that the increase in poverty in urban counties happened almost entirely during and after the recession. The increase in poverty in rural counties began around the turn of the century, and has been exacerbated by the recession.

After a decade of growth during the 1990s, the data show rural America has been effectively experiencing its own recession for far longer than the nation as a whole.

“There were fairly sharp declines in the number of places characterized by high poverty rates in the 1990s,” said Brian Thiede, a demographer at Penn State and the co-author of a new report on rural poverty released by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. “This is a pretty stark reversal from what was happening in the 1990s.”

Read on...

Three Things CEOs Should Do Now to Prepare for the New NAFTA

The corporate community in the US, Canada, and Mexico is finally waking up from a long period of denial over the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In the fall of 2016, when politicians talked of renegotiating NAFTA, most business leaders dismissed it as campaign rhetoric. Six months ago, the common response was, “They’re just going to tweak it and move on.” Three months ago, the refrain was, “Let’s just wait and see what happens, and then we’ll adjust.” More recently, the line has been, “If NAFTA goes, we’ll just fall back on the World Trade Organization’s low tariff levels—we’ll be fine.”

But now, reality, and anxiety, are sinking in. Major changes in the 23-year-old agreement that governs more than $1 trillion in North American trade appear imminent. As the three countries move through their last two rounds of 2017 talks in Mexico City and Washington, DC, the differences in negotiating positions remain wide.

While it is too early to predict the magnitude of change to NAFTA, it is clear that trade within North America will be more restrictive, and the impact on businesses, industries, and entire economies could be substantial. The Trump administration is following through on one of the president’s marquee campaign promises—to rewrite trade agreements in a bid to bring manufacturing and jobs back to the US. WTO tariffs, although higher than those under NAFTA, are not high enough to meet those objectives. Further restrictions from the US could therefore be expected.

Any business with goods, services, or people crossing borders within North America needs to prepare now. Business leaders should begin to assess the risk to their global value chains, work to influence policy, and develop a playbook for action based on several potential outcomes.

Read on... 

Extension of I-27/Ports-to-Plains Corridor

The Texas Freight Mobility Plan goes on to recommend that TxDOT, “give additional consideration to the extension or designation of other interstate routes.  Examples include I-27 and upgrades to portions of US Highway 190 to interstate standards.”

Has your organization considered the resolution supporting the Extension of Interstate 27?

Have you individually added your name supporting the Resolution?

Please share with your Texas Friends!

Please click here to add your personal name to the Resolution in Support of Expansion on Interstate 27

Please click here to downland a draft organizational resolution for consideration by local governments and non-profit organizations.  (Word Document) 

Upcoming Events


January 23, 2018 - Quarterly Ports-to-Plains Board Meeting, Amarillo, Texas

February 15, 2018 - SelectUSA Manufacturing Forum, Toronto, Canada

April 12, 2018 - SelectUSA Canada Conference, Calgary, Alberta

 Ports-to-Plains Alliance Staff

Michael Reeves
5401 N MLK Blvd. #395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-2338
F: 806-775-3981

Duffy Hinkle
Vice President of Membership & Marketing
5401 N MLK Blvd. #395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-3373
F: 806-775-3981

Joe Kiely
Vice President of Operations
PO Box 9
Limon, CO 80828
P: 719-740-2240
F: 719-775-9073

Jeri Strong
Executive Assistant
Ports-To-Plains Alliance
5401 N. MLK Blvd. Ste. 395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-3369

Cal Klewin
Executive Director
Theodore Roosevelt Expressway
PO Box 1306
22 E Broadway
Williston, ND 58802
P: 701-523-6171

Deb Cottier
Board of Directors
Heartland Expressway Association
706 West Third St.
Chadron, NE 69337
P: 308-432-4023

Jay Slemp
Eastern Alberta Trade Corridor
212 2nd Ave. W
Box 820
Hanna AB T0J 1P0
P: 403-854-0424