Correction: This editorial originally incorrectly described the price of land sold to Italy-based tissue manufacturer Sofidel last year. The editorial has been corrected.
Describing Tulsa-Port of Catoosa’s acquisition of nearly 2,000 acres of Rogers County land as the biggest deal for the state’s inland port since Richard Nixon opened the facility in 1971 is setting expectations pretty high.
But Port Authority Board Member and former Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett may well have been right in his superlative about the major port expansion announced last week.
Public Service Company of Oklahoma announced it was giving the land at the Inola River-Rail site to the City of Tulsa-Rogers County Port Authority for economic development.
The site surrounds 240 acres PSO sold to Italy-based tissue manufacturer Sofidel last year. Scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, the 1.8 million-square-foot Sofidel plant is expected to have 300 permanent jobs and an estimated annual economic impact of $100 million.
As PSO President and Chief Operating Officer Peggy Simmons said, having an “anchor tenant” on the property makes the authority’s development plans all the more attractive.
Under terms of the land transfer, the authority will invest at least $3 million to develop rail and other infrastructure that will serve Sofidel and future tenants to enhance the long-term viability of the area. The authority and PSO will work together to develop a master plan for the property and market it. PSO gets to be the electrical provider for the new industrial park for 99 years.
One of the big draws to the land to industrial clients is that it is adjacent to the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, a 445-miles connection to the Mississippi River and then on to the Gulf of Mexico. Tulsa Port of Catoosa is a local hub for shipping, trucking and rail and, through connections to the nearby Tulsa International Airport, air. It has shipped more than 85 million tons of cargo since it opened in 1971 and is currently home to 70 companies that employ more than 3,200 people.
The deal is loaded with tremendous promise for the continued industrial development of northeastern Oklahoma — more manufacturing, more commerce, more jobs. So, we’ll agree with Bartlett, it’s a gold-star, red-letter day for the port and the region.