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Corn Belt Ports Overview

corn belt
Event Date(s)


The value of waterborne commerce in the tri-state region of Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri in immense. The Heart of the Corn Belt handles enough freight tonnage to be ranked as the equivalent of the largest inland port in the nation. 

In a free online webinar by University of Illinois Extension and Rural Partners, Robert Sinkler will discuss the establishment of the Illinois Waterway, which handles more than 34 million tons of freighter each year, as an integrated U.S. Port Statistical Area by the U.S. Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center. 

By getting Global Trade Magazine to recognize the Illinois Waterway as a Top 50 Power Port, the Heart of the Corn Belts ports may be collectively recognized as the largest inland port in the nation, handling more than 47 millions tons of freight annually. The recognition will allow rural downstate Illinois to be more competitive for direct and indirect investment opportunities.

The webinar begins at noon Sept. 9. If you will need an accommodation in order to participate, email Nancy Ouedraogo, Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time to meet your access needs.

Sinkler is CEO of Streamside Systems, Inc., a veteran-led company that addresses complex water resource problems. He previously served as vice president of technology and commercialization in the environment sector at INTREXON Corporation. While serving as director of water resources infrastructure for The Nature Conservancy’s North America Water Program he focused on implementing interagency integrated water resources management in large watersheds.

In addition:

  • He served as principle strategic advisor to the Chief of Engineers and Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), where he assisted the Chief of Engineers in setting the strategic direction for USACE, the world’s largest public engineering, design, and construction management agency.
  • He served as Chief of Army Environmental Programs in the Pentagon where he developed and managed $1.5 billion in annual environmental programs that enabled the Army to maintain compliance with environmental laws worldwide, and execute environmental clean-up and remediation actions.
  • He commanded a USACE task force responsible for designing and constructing the segment of the $14.4 billion Hurricane Storm Surge System for the greater New Orleans area in the places hardest hit in 2005 by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
  • He commanded the Rock Island District USACE where he led the planning for, operations and maintenance of, and construction to support more than $30 billion of federal navigation, flood risk reduction, hydropower, environmental and recreational infrastructure in parts of the five Upper Mississippi River Basin states.
  • He led the on the ground execution of the Corps’ response to the Midwest floods in 2008.