Fremont tabbed as inland port city by state

1 month ago Fremont Tribune

The future of Fremont and Dodge County was exponentially brightened on Tuesday, Feb. 14, after the city was chosen as one of the first inland port authorities in the state of Nebraska.

According to a press release from the Greater Fremont Development Council, the city was tabbed as an inland port authority, which will lead to the eventual creation of a 1,500-acre Port Authority District in the region. The site is preliminarily planned for land south of the Fremont city limits in unincorporated Dodge County.

Fremont Mayor Joey Spellerberg said he was ecstatic over the announcement, something he noted was the result of many years of extreme collaboration between the City of Fremont, Dodge County and the Dodge County Board of Supervisors, the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce, multiple business leaders as well as the Greater Fremont Development Council.

“It is a big day. Kind of a historic moment for the city of Fremont and Dodge County,” Spellerberg said on Feb. 15. “It is an exciting moment. It is a historic moment for us as a city and the economy. In 30 years, we will look back on this day and realize its importance to the community. It is a historic moment for the future of our community and economy, not only for job growth but our economy. This was the key step we needed to have to begin to continue to move forward.”

According to the federal Department of Transportation report, an “inland port” can be a highway hub, train center or airport. These centers allow for economic growth and employment opportunities where they are located.

“Traditional ports at land, air, and coastal borders are the primary locations where international trade is processed. However, it is now recognized that a growing amount of trade is being processed at inland sites. International trade processing involves all transactions and inspections that federal agencies require for goods entering or leaving the country,” federal DOT officials stated in a press release.

“An inland port is a location where the processing of trade can be shifted from the national borders and where multiple modes of transportation and a wide variety of services are offered at a common location. International operations are supported at an inland port when customs clearance and Foreign-Trade Zone capabilities are available.”

Spellerberg said the designation will begin to be fully realized in 10 to 15 years, and for now, community leaders will begin robust efforts to plan the new inland port authority district. Those plans include developing a seven-member guidance committee composed of local elected officials and business leaders; developing preliminary site plans and a master project plan; and also working on timelines, business recruitment and other elements of the project.

“We are one of the first, and there are only going to be five designated (inland ports). This really kind of started in 2021, there was a law passed by the state of Nebraska that designated five inland port authorities. I actually testified on the bill,” he explained. “I felt with Fremont’s location in northeast Nebraska, with our two highways and railway infrastructure, we were a good fit. Like many cities in Nebraska, we were founded in a way by the railroad. So, it is in our wheelhouse to facilitate the movement of goods and services through our area. Once the law passed, we began working with (many community partners) on putting in an application. There was an inter-local agreement unanimously passed by the City of Fremont and the Dodge County supervisors. We have kind of been waiting to hear if we were selected.”

In Wednesday’s press release, GFDC Executive Director Megan Skiles explained that due to an, “infusion of some $30 million from the state of Nebraska Rural Project Act, the Greater Fremont Development Council will soon have an engineering firm on board to develop a detailed site plan.”

“It’s an important investment to make sure this project is a win for the entire community,” Skiles stated in the press release.

Also in the press release, Dodge County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Missel stated, “We deeply appreciate this vote of confidence to move Fremont’s future forward.”

The quest to become an inland port authority was detailed in lengthy comments during Spellerberg’s state of the city speech in January. Spellerberg described in his speech how the city joined forces with Dodge County and had applied to be one of five “inland ports” that will be chosen by officials from the State of Nebraska.

Spellerberg said in January that because Fremont is already a transportation hub with expanding highways as well as a robust railroad history, becoming an inland port would be a boon for the city.

“To leverage our transportation network, location, access to workforce, and growing economy, Fremont and Dodge County have been working to create an Inland Port Authority. In 2022, The City Council and the Dodge County Board unanimously approved an historic interlocal agreement to apply for one of five Inland Port Authorities that will be authorized by the state of Nebraska,” Spellerberg said.

“Establishing an Inland Port Authority would position Fremont as a leading trade and logistics hub and continue to help stimulate the long-term growth of our local and state economy. Our accessibility to the first and second largest railroad system in the US, vast four-lane highway transportation network, centralized location, growing economy, and access to regional workforce make Fremont a prime location for an Inland Port Authority.”

On Wednesday, Spellerberg said the next steps will begin immediately with the formation of the guiding committee, masterplan development and grant acquisition from the Nebraska Rural Project Act to fund efforts.

“We are receiving a lot of interest in Fremont, businesses wanting to come to the area. Any way this port authority can add value to companies looking to relocate, it will assist Fremont,” he added. “Companies looking to move here will be close to an intermodal facility and transportation lines. And actually, to access the global marketplace from right here in Fremont, Nebraska, that is huge. For Fremont and the state to be a part of that, I think it will add a lot of value to the future. It is a pretty exciting day for the community.”











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