Illinois Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza pledges her office’s resources in helping the Alexander-Cairo Port District move forward. Those joining her at the port’s site at the Mississippi and Ohio rivers included State Sen. Dale Fowler, Cairo Mayor Thomas Simpson, former Cairo Mayor Tyrone Coleman and State Rep. Patrick Windhorst.

CAIRO — Illinois Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza met June 24 with Cairo residents and officials anxious to see progress on the Alexander-Cairo Port District.

“You have my word that as soon as vouchers land on my desk for capital funds to cover anything relating to the port district, that I will move heaven and earth to get southern Illinois the resources it needs to get this port built to become the vital economic engine and supplier of jobs this region needs it to be,” Mendoza told Cairo residents at the town’s library.

She repeated those sentiments near the site of the port district where the Mississippi River meets the Ohio River.

She was joined by State Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg), who has spearheaded the effort to get the construction of the port going.

“This industry is growing each and every day, especially in container-transportation opportunities,” he said. “And we’re taking advantage of that because it is the most economical form of transportation.”

He pointed out that Cairo is unique in its location as the only place in the nation where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers come together.

Among those who joined the gatherings to push for further progress on the port district were Cairo Mayor Thomas Simpson; Tyrone Coleman, former Cairo mayor and former president of the local NAACP chapter; Edward Smith, CEO of Union Labor Life Insurance Co.; and State Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis).

An economic impact study done several years ago by Northern Illinois University estimated that just in the construction phase, the project would create 675 construction-related jobs and more than $110 million in economic impact to the region. However, those numbers are expected to be substantially higher after a new study is completed later this year.

“Every one of us up here — Democrat and Republican, southern and northern Illinois residents — are all 100% united on fighting for this port to become a reality,” Mendoza said. “Every official in Illinois — from Gov. (JB) Pritzker on down — has pledged their support to get this port built.”

Mendoza also visited Rogan’s Country Pharmacy in Pulaski where owner Dean Rogan, who also serves as the village’s mayor, told Mendoza the Comptroller Office’s payments for Critical Access Pharmacies in rural and small-town Illinois have been a lifeline for providing health care for their customers.

“We’d be gone” without the program, Rogan said.

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