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La Crosse hosts meeting for new group promoting Upper Midwestern ports



A tugboat pushes barges up the Mississippi River in August of 2023. (PHOTO: Rick Solem)

Port cities in the upper Midwest are getting special attention from a new group, which held a meeting Thursday in La Crosse.

Guests mainly from Wisconsin and Minnesota attended this first annual meeting of the Northern Grain Belt Posts group.

Representatives from several counties on both sides of the Mississippi River talked about ways to transport grain from this region to other markets.

The coordinating director of Corn Belt Ports, Robert Sinkler, said people at ports in both states have been working to coordinate river transportation in this region.

“We had letters of support from Wisconsin and Minnesota departments of transportation,” Sinkler said during Thursday’s meeting. “It takes sometime forever to get documents like that from senior officials in state organizations, and this all happened extremely quickly.”

The new group focuses on river traffic over a roughly 150-mile stretch of the Mississippi from Red Wing, Minn., to Prairie du Chien, Wis., covering 11 counties.

“This is an extraordinary step forward for our entire region,” La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds stated. “Honored to host the 1st annual meeting of the Northern Grain Belt Ports, the latest PSA in the Corn Belt Ports — the equivalent of the largest inland port in the nation.”

The speakers included local US House Rep. Derrick Van Orden, who said that if activity on the river stops, the country stops.

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin also spoke on video, congratulating the group for promoting affordable forms of transportation along the river route.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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