Welcome to the thriving hub of riverports in rural America! We are thrilled to introduce you to a whole new perspective of economic growth, where the Mighty Mississippi is at the forefront of it all. As you delve into the depths of our website, you will be presented with what makes the Kentucky river counties the best for business.
The West Kentucky Regional Riverport Authority (WKRRA) is the West Kentucky’s answer to economic redevelopment of our rural communities. Rural West Kentucky has suffered the loss of over 700 high-paying jobs due to the closure of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant operated by USEC, Inc in 2013, the loss of the Verso Paper Mill in 2016, and the completion of the Olmstead Dam in 2019. Local County Judge/ Executives from the four river counties in West Kentucky (Ballard, Carlisle, Hickman, and Fulton) recognized the need to work together to develop a unifying cohesive strategy that would mitigate the detrimental economic impacts felt throughout the region. The strategic planning process identified expansion of regional assets, capitalization of joint resources and promotion of the region through a variety of marketing efforts as top priorities. From this planning session, an unprecedented, bi-partisan collaboration resulted in the establishment of a regional movement to spur economic growth and position the area for rebirth and economic development by creating the West Kentucky Alliance for a Vibrant Economy (WAVE). WAVE was established as a 501(c)3 economic development organization and has worked tirelessly to support local revitalization efforts ever since.
Through the early planning process, WAVE determined the most optimal course of action was to stimulate the regional economy through strategic infrastructure developments.
In 2021, the America Society of Civil Engineer’s Infrastructure Report Card graded inland waterways in America as a D+ on a scale from A (exceptional) through F (Failing). Given the increasing load on America’s highways, railways nearing max capacity, and all four WAVE counties bordering the Mississippi river, the County Judge/Executives concluded inland waterway transportation should be a priority project for redevelopment efforts.
Having selected a focus, the WAVE Judge/Executives needed to determine a location for redevelopment. Understanding that 60% of the total US population resides within an 8-hour drive of Cairo, Illinois, finding a location in Kentucky near Cairo made the most logistic sense. Considering Wickliffe, KY’s position right across the river from Cairo, the interest shown by local agricultural and industrial partners in inland waterway transportation, and the existence of riverport operations in both Hickman, KY and Paducah, KY, it made sense to choose Wickliffe as the location for development.
With a long-term plan in mind, the four county Judge/Executives of WAVE and the City of Wickliffe created a quasi-government entity known as the West Kentucky Regional Riverport Authority
by The Numbers
WHY BUILD A RIVERPORT AT THIS SITE? WHY NOW?
$ Committed Funding To Date
$ Diverted Ton Mile Savings
Feet of Riverfront Footage
Acres For Development
Percent Of US Population Within 8 Hr Drive
Post Construction Jobs
- The greater Wickliffe region is the furthest point north that large, 36-tow barges can travel from the mouth of the Mississippi river in Louisiana without requiring breakdown.
- New US 51 bridge being constructed over the Ohio River between Wickliffe, KY and Cairo, IL, thanks to the Kentucky Department of Transportation (DOT) and Illinois DOT, the WKRRA site is located at an advantageous point for waterborne freight
- 14 road miles to I-57, 27 road miles to I-24
- Strategic location for manufacturing industry between new Ford EV plants in Stanton, TN and Glendale, KY
Ballard County – Todd Cooper, Guy Johnson
Carlisle County– Greg Terry, David Rambo
Hickman County – Bruce Kimbell, Kenny Wilson
Fulton County – Wade Adams, David Gallagher