Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Senate Removes $300 Million in Incentives from China Hub Bill

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2011 at 4:23 PM

click to enlarge The China Hub bill looks a bit like this today.
  • The China Hub bill looks a bit like this today.
Those pushing for a bill to build a cargo hub at Lambert St. Louis International Airport were dealt a setback today.

Senators meeting in special session removed a provision in the bill that could provide as much as $300 million in incentives for building warehouse space in and near the airport. A separate incentive of $60 million to encourage freight forwards to set up shop in St. Louis remained in the bill.

Last week the airport's director, Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, told Daily RFT that the incentives for new warehouse space were crucial to the project, as Lambert recently rented out its last remaining warehouse space to China Cargo, which will make an inaugural flight to St. Louis this month. Ideally, warehouse space for air cargo would be located on the grounds of the airport.

Opponents of the tax incentives, including the conservative think tank Show-Me Institute, have argued that plenty of existing warehouse space goes unused by the airport.

It's still possible, however, that the incentives for warehouses get placed back into the St. Louis Aerotropolis (a.k.a. China Hub) legislation when it moves to the House.

St. Louis Business Journal today quotes a relatively unconcerned Jeff Rainford, of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay's office. "The House hasn't even weighed in yet," says Rainford. "What's most important is that the bill is moving forward and not stalled out and it does include Aerotropolis. Oftentimes it's in the joint House-Senate committee conference where the bill is written."

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