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International commerce could explode at Port of Tucson

Published: Nov. 14, 2011 at 11:40 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:19 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Anybody who lives or works in Southern Arizona is probably pretty familiar with Union Pacific Railroad.

We see the trains running parallel with Interstate 10 almost every day.

But it's not very often we stop and think about what these trains are hauling or where they might be headed.

Pretty soon people in Tucson might be thinking about that more, due to some pretty big developments at the Port of Tucson.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Port of Tucson, it is a privately owned property near South Kolb road and I-10, immediately adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

Since it was founded in 2004, the Port of Tucson has done most of its freight-related business with companies in the Midwestern United States and Northern Mexico.

Starting early next year, the Port of Tucson is expanding its operations considerably by extending into Asia, perhaps even Europe.

This presents enormous opportunities for businesses here.  And even more possibilities for companies looking for the ideal place to set up shop.

"If you're in economic development you should be out here looking at this," says Alan Levin, owner and visionary behind the Port of Tucson.

"If you want to receive anything from overseas, whether it be Asia or Europe that container--that container will come right here."

The containers he's referring to are the storage containers you see on trains, then transported via 18-wheeler for regional distribution.

By definition, this is intermodal transportation: where companies shift from one mode of transportation to another to get the best bang for their buck.  It's also the bread and butter behind the Port of Tucson.

Due to increased global competition, at least two shipping companies are considering a deal that could divert millions of dollars in cargo business from California to Levin's Port of Tucson.

These companies work closely with businesses in Asia.  That means instant global opportunity for Southern Arizona.

"We've already signed the agreement with APL, American Presidents Line," Levin says.  "We have empty containers coming to the Port of Tucson from back East."

To accommodate the influx in international commerce, the Port of Tucson is planning a $17 million expansion.

Construction is set to begin shortly after the beginning of the year.

Copyright 2011 KOLD. All rights reserved.