TULSA — Newton and Harvey County officials signed a partnership agreement Tuesday afternoon with the City of Tulsa-Rogers County Port Authority to develop trade connections and transportation links between the Port of Catoosa and the Kansas Logistics Park.
The agreement formalizes the relationship between two logistics distribution centers, tying Newton to the Gulf of Mexico for imports, exports and manufacturing distribution for things such as wind turbines and wheat. The port is the farthest inland deepwater port that is ice-free all year.
“The world has changed,” said Harvey County Administrator John Waltner, who is president of the logistics park’s development authority. “We need to recognize that there are some issues of great significance which transcend political boundaries. We must recognize that fact, embrace it and develop these opportunities. Today, we took a big step in that direction.”
The agreement includes new business recruitment for the park and the port, joint marketing, data exchange, shared market studies and other activities.
“This is the first time I can remember in my seven years on the board sitting down with another government,” said Tulsa banker Ed Fariss, who chairs the port authority. “Something as visionary and far-reaching as this doesn’t typically come before us, but we certainly welcome this partnership.”
The signing came after the Newton delegation took a barge tour of the port and met the Tulsa delegation, which included Newton native Victoria Bartlett, wife of Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett.
“I am tickled to death to see what this small city has accomplished,” she said.
The port offers direct rail and highway connections with Newton. Half of the port’s goods are grain and fertilizer, with 30 percent of that coming from Kansas. The port includes 2,500 developed industrial acres, 62 industries and 3,085 workers.
The port has its own internal railway with 15 miles of track, and three towboats working the Verdigris River. The port has begun importing and exporting crude oil.
Former President Richard Nixon opened the port in 1971. It is exactly 1,000 miles from downtown New Orleans. Port officials estimate that one barge can carry 60 semi truckloads.