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‘Transformative’ logistics park launching in Mobile, bringing jobs and future growth potential

The Alabama Department of Commerce on Wednesday announced that Canadian National Railway (CN) is collaborating with Alabama Export Railroad and Ray-Mont Logistics to launch the first phase of a new, state-of-the-art logistics park in Mobile.

Expected to open in late 2021, phase one of the facility will be utilized to bag plastic pellets for containerized shipping around the world. According to a release, the terminal will include two bagging lines with a capacity of 300 Forty-Foot Equivalent Units per week.

“This logistics park is another exciting development that will add new capabilities at the state’s gateway for international commerce, the Port of Mobile,” Governor Kay Ivey said in a statement. “We welcome this collaboration and look forward to seeing the future growth of this facility.”

The total initial investment in the facility is reportedly more than $16 million, and the project is anticipated to create up to 50 jobs.

Strategically located in Mobile, the facility will provide customers with unobstructed, extensive export capacity to access Asian, Latin American and European markets without warehousing costs or requiring double handling. This collaboration between CN, Alabama Export Railroad (a wholly owned subsidiary of Mississippi Export Railroad) and Ray-Mont Logistics will offer shippers an enhanced alternative solution to maintain a steady supply chain and to get their products to global markets from the Port of Mobile.

Additionally, the partnership brings to bear CN’s Class 1 freight railway network, which stretches for more than 20,000 miles across Canada and through the U.S. Midwest and South. James Cairns, senior vice president for Rail Centric Supply Chain at CN, stated that he is excited by the collaborative project.

“CN is once again using the strength of its unique tri-coastal network to help customers win in their markets,” Cairns advised. “This logistics park will service customers across our network and the first phase will specifically serve the demand for bagging and stuffing plastic resin containers, which is on the rise in the U.S.”

Mississippi Export Railroad has been a family business since its founding in 1922. Its subsidiary, Alabama Export Railroad, is a relatively new venture, providing freight rail service in Mobile and providing access to the Mississippi Export Railroad connections and alliances that link the Gulf of Mexico to all points on the continent.

Kate Luce, president and CEO of both Alabama Export Railroad and Mississippi Export Railroad, explained that this project has major growth potential in addition to a large immediate impact: “Along with our core partners Canadian National and Ray-Mont Logistics, we believe this project represents the first step toward the establishment of a multicommodity logistics hub which will serve producers and global markets for decades to come.”

She also said that the project was made possible “in part” due to ongoing investments made in the Alabama’s seaport. The Port of Mobile is currently undergoing a historic harbor channel deepening and widening project largely made possible by U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) as well as the Rebuild Alabama Act on the state level.

“Our interest in pursuing this intermodal opportunity is due in part to the continued federal and state investments at the Port of Mobile, as well as the recent announcement of additional container capacity at APM Terminals,” Luce remarked.

Luce, 33, appears to be a potential rising star in Alabama’s business community, having just recently been named to the 2021 board of directors for the Business Council of Alabama (BCA). Another new BCA board of directors member, Alabama State Port Authority director and CEO John Driscoll, also had high praise for the project.

“Ray-Mont’s new investment positions Alabama’s seaport into the fast growth resin market, while providing shippers a near-port gateway equipped with new ocean carriage services into key export markets,” stated Driscoll.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, BCA president and CEO Katie Boyd Britt reacted to Wednesday’s project announcement.

“This exciting announcement today exemplifies the type of innovation, forward-thinking vision and collaboration that our members pride themselves on,” said Britt. “BCA is firmly committed to building a 21st century Alabama economy that fosters increased prosperity and opportunity for hardworking families in every corner of our state, and this project certainly aligns with that mission. We are thankful to leaders within our membership, such as Kate Luce of Alabama Export Railroad and John Driscoll of the Alabama State Port Authority, who are working every day to create jobs and cultivate growth. The Port of Mobile is a cornerstone of Alabama’s present and future, and BCA continues to proudly support efforts to strategically expand its positive statewide impact.”

BCA director of regional affairs Kellie Hope added, “We applaud one of BCA’s newest board members, Kate Luce, president and CEO of Alabama Export Railroad, for her proactive leadership in this transformative project. We look forward to her continued contributions to the region and our state. This accomplishment is a tipping point opportunity for additional capital investment related to the Port, as well as a further demonstration of this region’s identity as a future epicenter for multimodal transportation and logistical support.”

The announcement was met with further plaudits from Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, who commented, “Today’s announcement is a huge step for the future growth of container traffic in Mobile. This logistics hub will put previously vacant property into production to create jobs, add product diversity, and turn the intermodal flywheel at the Port of Mobile.”

“Additionally, we are excited to welcome Ray-Mont Logistics to town and look forward to the continued success of this partnership,” the mayor concluded.

The plastic pellets shipped from the facility’s first phase will reportedly be used in various applications, including plastic packaging for fresh and frozen food.

“With our nearly 30 years of transloading & logistics expertise, Ray-Mont Logistics is proud to partner with Alabama Export Railroad and CN to establish this multi-commodity intermodal logistic platform. Mobile is emerging as a key gateway in the Gulf of Mexico, which will complement our existing, strategically located, facilities throughout North America. Thanks to the collaboration of our industry partners and stakeholders, this facility offers exporters innovated logistics solutions to accommodate the growing demands of the global marketplace,” said Stephen Paul, vice president of Supply Chain Logistics at Ray-Mont Logistics.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn