The Utah Legislature’s passage of SB 234, creating an Inland Port Authority, is a step forward identifying a large economic development opportunity for Salt Lake City and the state. Gov. Gary R. Herbert has indicated his intent to sign the bill in the coming days.
With Utah’s strong economy and workforce, an inland port will elevate the state as a global business destination, act as a logistics center for the entire Western US and attract more international companies to relocate to Utah. Building upon existing transportation infrastructure, the global trade port will act as a highly cost-effective distribution hub connecting Salt Lake City to major seaports and western locations. Primary activities at the inland port will include unloading and loading shipping containers, value-added manufacturing, and repackaging items shipping them to thousands of destinations. The port will also include a customs office allowing international customers to clear their products through customs before being processed and distributed.
“The inland port project is a generational opportunity with the potential to impact the entire state and intermountain region. International business in Utah is big business and contributes significantly to our place as the nation’s fastest growing economy. An inland port will position Utah as a center for global trade and take the state from the “Crossroads of the West” to the crossroads of the world.” Derek Miller, president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah and co-chair of the Inland Port Committee.
“An inland port in Utah means thousands of jobs and opportunity to the state,” said Val Hale, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) and co-chair of the Inland Port Committee. “Our robust economy, proximity to other regions and strong workforce in the state will attract international companies and continue to strengthen our robust economy.”
Once the bill is signed, the 11 members of the board will be selected, reflecting the wide impact of the inland port project. Representation includes Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake International Airport, Salt Lake County, West Valley City, the Utah Department of Transportation, the Governor, Legislature and the business community. This governing authority is then charged with hiring a full-time executive director for the port authority.
Gov. Herbert created the Inland Port Exploratory Committee in 2016 to thoroughly study the potential of an inland port in Utah. The committee, which was co-chaired by GOED and the World Trade Center Utah, provided high-quality, data-driven recommendations to the governor and Legislature.
In August of 2017, the committee contracted with Cambridge Systematics to launch a feasibility study which confirmed Utah met the criteria to create a successful inland port. Additionally, the feasibility study noted that Utah stands at a unique point in time, with a large tract of undeveloped land that lies at the intersection of an international airport, major freeway systems and intermodal rail hub. This presents a tremendous opportunity to develop a product to market the state as an international business destination.