To say the Tulsa Port of Catoosa has had a heavy impact on the area economy would be putting it lightly. More than 82 million tons of freight has been shipped to or from the port since it opened in 1971.
Local officials gathered [Dec. 12] to mark the 50,000th barge, which arrived at the port [Dec. 11].
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said the 50,000th barge is not just a milestone for the port, but also a reminder of the opportunity that exists when the public and private sectors work together.
“That’s the first part of this success story, the role the government can play when it is utilized in an effective way to leverage greater future economic value,” he said. “This facility has had remarkable economic impact, has created thousands of jobs and opened up commerce to this part of the state.”
The Tulsa Port of Catoosa is a 2,000-acre industrial park and port center that is part of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, the 445-mile engineering feat that connects the central Plains to the Mississippi River, the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.
“This made it so much more affordable to transport goods from Oklahoma all around the world,” Bynum said. “I think it says a lot about how important this was … that you had presidents of the United States recognize the importance of this facility and the impact it could have on commerce in this part of the country.”
More than 60 companies have facilities at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, employing nearly 4,000 people. The port handles about 1,000 barges a year, which is the equivalent to 60,000 truckloads of commerce.
The 50,000th barge contained coiled steel, much of which will be used by the Whirlpool Corp. at its Cherokee Industrial Park facility.
Paul Rushing, plant leader of Tulsa operations at Whirlpool, said the company receives nearly 160 million tons of steel via barge and rail annually.
“Manufacturing strengthens America,” Rushing said. “Having low-cost transportation is critical to Whirlpool’s commitment to manufacture in the United States. … The port impacts the steel we receive, the product we produce and the transportation of that product to the U.S. and Canada.”