CEDAR RAPIDS — When Alliant Energy on Monday announced plans for Big Cedar Industrial Center, a 1,300-acre Mega commercial and industrial park on the southwest edge of Cedar Rapids, it added the final piece of an economic development “trifecta.”
As Alliant subsidiary Iowa Land and Building was assembling the commitments of family farm owners to make their land available for purchase, The Eastern Iowa Airport was preparing to announce Iowa’s first certified Super park and the Iowa Department of Transportation was working to create a one-of-a-kind freight hub for the state nearby.
On July 7, IDOT announced that the state had been awarded a nearly $25.7 million federal grant to build a $46.5 million full service intermodal facility southwest of the Highway 30 and Edgewood Road SW interchange, along the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway — or CRANDIC.
The logistics hub will incorporate three components — intermodal facilities for freight to truck — and vice versa — transfer; a cross-docking facility for truck-to-truck transfers; and a bulk fright storage and transfer operation. No other Iowa intermodal facility incorporates three different freight components in a single location.
“Big Cedar and the proposed logistics hub have the potential to become one of the critical economic developers, not only for this region, but also for the state,” said Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. on Monday in Cedar Rapids. “Iowa’s largest gross state product is manufacturing and this will reduce the cost of moving products.”
Jeff Woods, CRANDIC manager of marketing and business development, on Monday said the Mega park, logistics hub and the Cedar Rapids Air and Land Super Park could not be more complimentary.
“You see these in other cities like Chicago and Kansas City where the major railroads are co-locating facilities,” Woods said. “A major industry locates there and brings its suppliers and distributors with it.”
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Woods said the CRANDIC was working on plans for the logistics hub when it learned former IDOT Director Paul Trombino was calling for co-locating a similar facility with a large industrial park of the size that Alliant was developing with Big Cedar.
“The two initiatives were working in parallel unbeknown to each other for a period of time,” Woods said. “Big Cedar and the logistics hub are separate projects, but they’re pretty closely affiliated. Along with the Super Park, access to interstate highways, the nation’s largest railroads and a foreign trade zone, they will provide a major economic development asset for the state.”
Woods said CRANDIC is working with the Federal Railroad Administration, which overseas the $25.7 million federal grant, and major shippers in the region to develop specifics and timelines for the project. He is confident that the remaining 40 percent, or $21 million, of the hub’s cost will be raised from private partners.
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