Four regional companies joined Great Plains Development Authority CEO Daniel Mann in Topeka on Thursday to assist in Great Plains Industrial Park’s bid of becoming a new transload facility in Kansas.
Accompanying Great Plains CEO Daniel Mann were Bill Benefiel, vice president of Progress Rail Services, Darrell Holaday, president of Advanced Market Concepts, Sam Manners of the international sales division of Tank Connection and Scott Morris, vice president/chief financial officer of Charloma.
The Kansas Department of Transportation named Great Plains one of seven finalist for a transloading facility that would be built in a public-private partnership. Transload is the process of moving product from rail to truck or from truck to rail.
According to a statement from Great Plains, Mann and the industry representatives gave the message that Great Plains is in a perfect location in the state for a transload facility, as it will benefit many industries that rely on trucking to other locations for transport to intermodal facilities or that have markets that are restricted due to the lack of transload capabilities.
Great Plains and its rail lessee, Progress Rail Services, have a rail service agreement with the Union Pacific Railroad that would allow a transload operation to start up with very little effort. Nearly a dozen companies in the multi-county area have contacted Mann to express interest and support since the announcement that Great Plains was a finalist for the project.
Manners pointed out that the transload could decrease the transit time to southern ports, making the likelihood of missing a container ship far less likely. Missing a sailing date could result in a delay of one to three weeks for Tank Connection to get its product to the customer.
Morris said Charloma, Cherryvale, could benefit on a number of levels by having transload available so close to home, including its desire to bring in plastic resins in bulk rather than smaller loads. Holaday represents a start-up grain operation and talked about the market flexibility that rail transload could provide.
Progress Rail Services has a contract with Great Plains for operation of 26 miles of rail located at the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant. Moving cars in and out of the property is a highly desirable aspect of the operation for the company, which is a subsidiary of Caterpillar and has rail locations throughout the world. The expertise of the company and its long-standing business relationship with Union Pacific make it a perfect fit for any new venture, according to the Great Plains statement.
Mann’s presentation to the site selection committee on Thursday focused on the assets of Great Plains and its ability to have a quick start-up as a transload. Additionally he took letters of support from neighboring counties, cities, economic development directors and private companies.
“This is what Great Plains is about; it’s a place that can benefit not only Southeast Kansas, but the entire tri-state area,” Mann said. “When companies can profit through reduced costs, they have the ability to expand and be more competitive. And when that happens, every community where those employees live will benefit.
“I feel extremely confident that Great Plains is very well positioned to be designated as the state’s next transload site.”
KDOT plans to name the selected site in late August.