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Ports-to-Plains Region

January 16, 2018

Volume Number 16
Issue Number 02

We are keeping an eye on Washington in this week’s newsletter with rumblings of a potential federal infrastructure plan and negotiations continuing on the North American Free Trade Agreement.  We are working closely with our Ports-to-Plains Congressional Caucus to deliver the message to the administration that the Ports-to-Plains Alliance Corridor is the type of project that should be included in a major federal infrastructure plan.  It is a multi-state corridor with strong federal interest that will have a tremendous economic impact on our energy and agriculture heartland.  I also had the privilege of attending the 2018 State Agriculture and Rural Leaders Legislative Agriculture Chairs Summit in Kansas City January 6. Top elected state and provincial officials with an interest in agriculture and rural communities attended the conference to work together, network, collaborate and create problem solving partnerships.  The current NAFTA negotiations were a key topic at the meeting as agriculture has benefited tremendously from the increased trade with Canada and Mexico.  Our North American neighbors are top destinations for U.S. farm products.  Our rural communities need ag exports to survive economically, and it is imperative that we have good trade relations with Mexico and Canada to be competitive.  

 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.


At Camp David, Trump Will Push Republicans to Make Infrastructure Top 2018 Priority

WASHINGTON – President Trump plans to press Republican congressional leaders this weekend at Camp David to make a major infrastructure package their top legislative priority this year, as his administration readies a blueprint he'll tout in the State of the Union address on January 30, according to two White House officials.

The White House will release a proposal in mid to late January that will call for a wholesale change in the way the U.S. approaches big infrastructure projects, according to the officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly because the plan is being finalized.

Trump's pledge to renew the country's roads, bridges and airports was a major populist promise from his 2016 presidential campaign. But it was put on hold as GOP congressional leaders pursued traditional Republican agenda items in his first year in office, including tax cuts and failed attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

At a presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains this weekend, one official said Trump will make clear that House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., should put infrastructure above other priorities including Ryan's push to overhaul entitlement programs.

Read on...

GOP Leaders Reject Gas Tax Increase After Trump Floats the Idea

President Trump privately suggested massively increasing the gas tax to help fund a national infrastructure overhaul, but Republican leaders in Congress moved quickly to shut down the idea.

During a White House meeting with House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) several weeks ago, Trump mused about a gas tax increase to 50 cents per gallon, almost triple the current level, according to a person briefed on the exchange who requested anonymity to discuss White House deliberations.

The White House declined to comment on the exchange, and Shuster declined to discuss the conversations with the White House, calling them “completely private.”

Trump, Cabinet members and GOP leaders also discussed the gas tax increase during joint meetings this weekend in Camp David. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), who attended the meetings, would not reveal who raised the subject of raising the gas tax, but he said there was no ambiguity about how Congress planned to proceed.

“I’m sure it came up in some context because that’s what a lot of people have proposed at different times,” Cornyn said. “But I have complete confidence that we will not be raising the gas tax.”

The discussions underscore the difficulty Trump faces as he seeks to finance his 2016 campaign promise of a $1 trillion national infrastructure upgrade. Trump has said the infrastructure spending is central to his economic agenda, and he believes the investments could create millions of new jobs across the country.

 Read on...

U.S. Chamber Hopes for Progress on NAFTA, Infrastructure, Immigration

After Tom Donohue laid out the U.S. Chamber’s 2018 agenda in the State of American Business Address, the President and CEO joined Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley for questions from the Washington, D.C. press corps.

Hot topics included NAFTA, infrastructure, and immigration.


In his speech, Donohue said, “The American economy has taken several big steps forward with regulatory relief and tax reform, and the administration deserves lots of credit. But a wrong move on NAFTA would send us five steps back.”

But with that warning, Donohue expressed the business community’s continued hope that the U.S., Canada, and Mexico can reach a modernized agreement.

To make sure that happens the U.S. Chamber has been holding numerous events in Washington and across the country to “keep the focus” on NAFTA. And it will "keep it up until it's all resolved and we have a new agreement," said Donohue.

Donohue praised Congress’ efforts in advocating for NAFTA, noting that members of Congress "have been working very closely with the White House and the trade rep."

And should it get to a point where the U.S. pulls out of a trade deal that supports 14 million jobs, Donohue said, “you might get the idea that Democrats and Republicans alike would be very consumed by that move."


On infrastructure, Donohue said in his speech, “We have the political will, the bipartisan support — and we certainly have the need. Now it’s time for action.”

The important question is how to pay for it.

"I have been a longtime supporter of a gas tax increase," said Donohue in the press conference, and noted it hasn't been raised in over two decades. As a result, "we have reduced the money coming in" for highways, bridges, and other infrastructure.

But he said further ideas about funding will come at America’s Infrastructure Summit on Jan. 18.

Read on...

Canada Takes ‘Hug-an-American’ Approach to Saving NAFTA

Canada is trying to convince the U.S. to remain in the North American Free Trade Agreement in the most Canadian way ever — with an outreach blitz that some Canadian officials call the “hug an American campaign,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

As officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico continue with official negotiations, Canadian officials, from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to provincial governors to local businessmen, have waged a quiet lobbying effort to save the trade pact.

Canadian officials have held nearly 300 meetings with American leaders since President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, WSJ reports. Trudeau’s envoys have met with 16 secretaries in the Trump cabinet, more than 250 members of Congress, and more than 50 state officials.

“What we are depending on is that facts should win the day,” David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., told WSJ. Canada is ramping up the outreach effort because “while we are doing a better job of this, and getting people’s attention, we are not where we need to be,” MacNaughton said.

Read on...

Trudeau Team Targets Pro-NAFTA Republicans Ahead of Fresh Talks

Justin Trudeau’s lead Nafta minister is reaching out to many of the Republican senators urging the Trump administration to stave off the trade pact’s collapse.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland met Tuesday with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a regular critic of the status quo for the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, according to a statement from her office.

With the sixth round of negotiations set to begin in two weeks in Montreal, Freeland was also due to meet with top Republicans who have publicly supported Nafta. They include Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Nebraska’s Deb Fischer and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, according to a statement from Freeland spokesman Alex Lawrence.

Freeland was also due to meet Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Republican Congressman Dave Reichert, a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Lawrence said.

Read on...

The Potential Ramifications of Trump's Proposed Infrastructure Plan

President Donald Trump took many opportunities in 2017 to rail against the state of the United States' infrastructure, most recently using the fatal Amtrak crash in Washington state to point out the country's crumbling bridges, roads, and railways. "[O]ur soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly," he tweeted, harkening back to his oft-repeated promise to invest $1 trillion rebuilding the country.

That plan turned into little more than a punch line this past year. But come January, the White House will begin a push, in earnest, for a national infrastructure package that gets to $1 trillion in overall investment, using $200 billion in federal "seed" money, a senior official recently told Fox News.

Trump advisers had previously described an infrastructure package that would rely on the private sector to make up the $800 billion difference. In this version, most of the $200 billion would be rewarded on a competitive basis to states and localities that promise to raise new, infrastructure-dedicated revenue on their own, for a total of $1 trillion, according to White House officials. Some portion of the $200 billion would directly fund projects in rural areas.

Read on...

Freeways Aren't Free, and Texas Politicos Don't Want to Pay

Just after the end of World War I, a young Army officer who was born in Denison, Texas, was assigned to accompany an expedition of military vehicles driving across America. The mission was to determine the difficulties the nation might face moving an entire army across the continent.

Lucky thing the country was no longer at war. The convoy constantly ground to a halt on unpaved roads, sinking into mud, slipping into ditches and sliding into quicksand. The cross-country journey took 62 days, averaging about six miles an hour, something close to the speed of a leisurely walk.

The lessons of that ordeal stuck in the young officer's mind. A generation later, former Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower cited his 1919 convoy experience as a reason for Congress to authorize construction of the Interstate Highway System. The commander-in-chief also proposed paying for the new freeway system with revenues from federal excise taxes on gasoline and lubricating oil.

President Eisenhower knew not only how to get freeways built, but also how to pay for them. We could sure use his help today in Austin. Instead, we're stuck with state leaders who can't figure out how to perform the basic governmental function of paying for highway projects. Our state's political leadership needs to quit dodging this issue and make some tough decisions about how Texas will finance its future roadways.

The problem is that freeway projects cost a lot of money, but the Republicans running the show in Austin don't have the political courage to pass the cost onto taxpayers. Take, for example, what recently happened to a couple of highway expansions proposed for the Dallas and Austin areas. The Texas Transportation Commission removed them from its ten-year plans because both of those projects rely partly on revenue from toll roads.

Read on...

Business Incentive Program Secures Hundreds of San Angelo Jobs in 2017

The City of San Angelo Development Corp. substantially surpassed its goal of creating 50 new direct jobs in 2017 through its Business Retention and Expansion Program.

  • Goal: 50 direct jobs, 100 indirect jobs
  • Reality: 314 direct jobs, 264 indirect jobs

Additionally, the existing companies, through the program, invested $16.72 million, surpassing the corporation's goal of $15 million.

COSADC's first BREP project of 2017 gave $516,123 to Principal LED, LLC in January. A manufacturer of lights for outdoor signs, the company invested an estimated $2.87 million toward the purchasing of a new property, the old Taylor Publishing building, which had been vacant for over 11 years.

The capital investment also included making improvements to the building and buying equipment. With that deal, 51 San Angelo jobs were retained and another 50 were added.

Next came Netco Energy Products, receiving $60,000 in its incentive deal in June. Spending almost $1.35 million for a new building and equipment, the company is consolidating its employees and operations in San Angelo. This deal retained six jobs in San Angelo and added another 20. The result also included retaining 20 indirect jobs and adding another 17.

Indirect jobs are related to the purchases of the new business, like materials, supplies and equipment. These figures also include induced jobs, which are related to expenditures of business employees, such as the need for additoinal food service or retail workers.

While the majority of Netco's operations are in the Permian Basin, staying in San Angelo was beneficial, said Shannon Kendall, president of Netco.

Read on...

Hickenlooper Calls for More Transportation Spending in Colorado Budget

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has reversed course and called for new general-fund spending for transportation in next year’s state budget — a move that could give a significant boost to business groups’ efforts to help roads, bridges and transit.

The Democratic governor sent a letter to the Colorado Legislature's Joint Budget Committee late Tuesday requesting that $148.2 million of the expected $256.5 million in newly forecast general-fund revenues for the fiscal year beginning on July 1 be put to transportation.

He asked that the rest of the newly projected income go to the general-fund reserve, which would build the “rainy day fund” up to 8 percent of the general-fund budget.

Hickenlooper had angered some business leaders and legislative Republicans by proposing a 2018-19 budget that put no new money to transportation, despite his support during the 2017 session for a proposed tax-hike ballot measure that would have raised billions of dollars for state and local road and transit needs.

He pointed to the passage during the session of a bill that will put about $1.9 billion more to transportation in the coming years — a total that remains far short of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s projected $9 billion shortfall for needs over the next 10 years.

Read on... 

Alberta Minister of Agriculture Oneil Carlier and Ports-to-Plains President Michael Reeves

Alberta Minister of Agriculture Oneil Carlier and Ports to Plains President Michael Reeves at the 2018 State Agriculture and Rural Leaders Legislative Agriculture Chairs Summit in Kansas City January 6. The conference is an unparalleled non-partisan educational opportunity for elected state and provincial officials with an interest in agriculture and rural communities to work together, network, collaborate and create problem solving partnerships since 2001. 

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

The proposed extension of Interstate 27 intersects with Interstate 40, Interstate 20 and Interstate 10 and will serve three border crossings with Mexico at Del Rio, Eagle Pass and Laredo.

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

January 29, 2018 - Clayton-Union County Legislative Luncheon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

February 5, 2018 - Presentation, Tulia Retired Teachers Association, Tulia, Texas

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

February 26 - March 1, 2018 - Staff D.C. Fly-In, Washington, D.C.

March 7-9, 2018 - Presentation, Eastern Alberta Trade Corridor Local to Global Forum, Vermillion,                                          Alberta

March 28, 2018 - Presentation, Rotary Club of Lubbock, Lubbock, Texas

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

April 16 - 20, 2018 - D.C. Fly-In, Washington, D.C. 

 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