Since 2019, more than 17 city and county ports throughout the Upper Mississippi River System (which includes the Illinois Waterway) collaborated and combined their efforts to improve performance and gain federal funding for regional port and waterway improvements. A stalwart leader in this effort has been our Dawson colleague retired Colonel Bob Sinkler.
Last month, the Upper Mississippi, Illinois, and Missouri Rivers Association (UMIMRA), which advocates for regional environmental stewardship and river resources development, honored Bob with one of its highest awards, the Pilot Award, which has only been presented a few times in UMIMRA’s 69-year history. This prestigious award specifically recognized Bob’s leadership in establishing the Corn Belt Port initiative.
The Corn Belt Port endeavor significantly benefited the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway by bringing together ports throughout the region. Beginning in 2021, their collective efforts attracted more than $1.5 billion in government and private sector infrastructure investment.
In accepting the award, Bob highlighted:
This recognition is definitely a surprise. The Upper Mississippi, Illinois, and Missouri Rivers Association, the 13 regional planning agencies, the 17 city and county ports, and the over 50 riverfront counties in 5 states made the grassroots effort to create the Corn Belt Ports happen. It did help attract additional investment in our region and all of you, and they should really be the ones receiving an award today from the four regional Corn Belt Ports. As Waterways Journal recently indicated in an editorial, the formation of the Corn Belt Ports was truly Democracy in Action. This was a wonderful American effort to be part of.
In the award ceremony audience were representatives from the Departments of Transportation of Illinois, Missouri and Iowa, the Executive Director of the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association, a former Presidentially appointed Mississippi River Commissioner, and former Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works the Honorable R.D. James.
Before joining Dawson, Bob was Commander of the Corps' Rock Island District and served as principal strategic advisor to the Commanding General at Corps of Engineers headquarters. He joined our firm in 2013 after a highly successful 30-year career as an Army engineer.
We’re proud and honored to have Bob Sinkler on the Dawson team as he continues to make a difference in people’s lives throughout the Midwest.
Maj. Gen. (Ret) Rick Stevens
Senior Vice President
A former Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rick joined Dawson & Associates in 2018.