An Economic Development Home Run

February 26, 2024


Read the full story, authored by Jennifer Krebs-Ellis, on The Lawton Constitution website.

Situated along the banks of the Verdigris River in northeastern Oklahoma, the Port of Catoosa is an excellent example of economic vitality and strategic planning. As one of the farthest inland, ice-free ports in the United States, the Port of Catoosa serves as a pivotal hub for both domestic and international trade, playing a vital role in fostering regional development and enhancing global connectivity.

In addition to allowing safe passage for barges, the project’s original goals were to control flooding and provide hydroelectric power generation. Then, in the early 1960s, a group of delegates to Tulsa convinced local business leaders of the opportunity for a waterway, port, and associated development to stimulate business in the region. On Jan. 21, 1971, the first commercial trip along the water corridor from the Mississippi River to Catoosa was completed.

The largest project by the Corp of Engineers to date, the Port of Catoosa was designed as a multi-modal transportation complex to facilitate the movement of goods between the heartland of America and the world. Spanning over 2,500 acres, the port boasts a 2,500-foot main dock. It offers direct access to the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, connecting it to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. This strategic location provides businesses with a cost-effective and efficient means of transporting goods, particularly bulk and oversized cargo, via waterway, rail, and road.

The port’s impact on the local and regional economy is profound. With over 70 companies operating within its industrial park, the Port of Catoosa has become a bustling center of commerce, fostering job creation and economic growth. The diverse array of industries at the port, including manufacturing, agriculture, energy, and logistics, underscores its critical role as a catalyst for economic diversity and resilience in the region.

Jennifer Krebs-Ellis is president & CEO of Cosmetic Specialty Labs, Inc.

Read the full story on The Lawton Constitution website.