Des Moines, IA – The Iowa Legislature authorized local governments to come together and form port authorities in 2006. Lee County, Fort Madison, and Keokuk's union created the Southeast Iowa Regional Economic and Port Authority.
SIREPA is still the only sanctioned port authority in Iowa.
The organization has developed a master plan and funded several projects, throughout Lee County, during its first four years of existence. The money for those efforts came in the form of state and local grants.
Mayor Dave Gudgel says the next step for SIREPA is the creation of a foreign trade zone, which can be very expensive. He says that is a problem because the organization is running low on funds.
Gudgel and other members of SIREPA's Board of Directors are asking state lawmakers for $50,000 this year. Gudgel says that would help pay for the organization's pursuit of a foreign trade zone and would provide matching funding for potential grants or other revenue sources.
Iowa used to make an annual contribution of $50,000 to the Mid-America Port Commission (Quincy, IL). The state stopped that practice several years ago.
Gudgel hopes to hear back from state leaders about SIREPA's request within the next 10 days. He says if state money is not provided, the organization will have to look for private sources to fund SIREPA's efforts.