Study focuses on container loading facility

Study focuses on container loading facility Gov. Mike Rounds has announced that Horizon Services Group and the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDOA) launched a feasibility study on the establishment of an intermodal container facility in the state with the hopes of improving the ability to move product in and out of the state.

"One of the single factors hindering agriculture and commercial development growth in South Dakota is the limited ability to move product in and out of the state," according to Gov. Rounds.

The study will target the South Dakota region, specifically Sioux Falls and eastern traffic corridors. Goals consists of quantifying the market for containerized cargo shipping, locating the best place for an intermodal container loading facility, determining the probable response of available railroads in the South Dakota area regarding service levels, and evaluating shipping rates and advantages/disadvantages to the overall economic impact to the area.

"This is an issue for both commercial and agricultural products," said Jon Farris, ag development specialist. "There is a heavy burden on our highway systems because of inbound long-haul truck traffic that might be transferred to rail. By establishing an Intermodal facility on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, the Dakota Minnesota & Eastern railroad or at a location accessible to both railroads, we hope to decrease highway congestion while increasing growth and opportunity for the agricultural economy in our state and its distant markets, as well as environmental impact."

The study is expected to take three months and will utilize Horizon Services Group's information technology methodologies to identify opportunities, obstacles and recommendations.

"South Dakota is becoming more and more a part of the global economy that surrounds us," said Farris. "Our producers and processors will thrive if we continue to seek out economical and efficient transportation options and reposition ourselves in a very competitive marketplace."

Shipping products in containers, either in a bulk or bagged condition, preserves the identity/integrity of the product and has the potential to be the most economic way for that product to reach the customer � provided it can be shipped predominantly by rail. Many processed or identity/integrity preserved agricultural products carry a higher value than their mixed grade commodity counterparts. The challenge is to realize the value of these products by maintaining the identity/integrity from the producer to the final customer.

"Horizon Services Group's knowledge and expertise in the area of logistics and container transportation is second to none in the industry," said Rick Kessler, HSG president, and University of South Dakota graduate.

As part of the study, HSG is contacting local businesses that import and export intermodal containers. The company is encouraging all local businesses in South Dakota, southwest Minnesota, northwest Iowa, northeast Nebraska and Sioux City that import and export significant product to contact them at (866) 268-2157 or (712) 813-5703.

"We know that HSG can produce credible results and help state government make key decisions," said Kessler. "We'd like all South Dakota businesses to help support this important business venture."

Horizon Services Group was formed in 2001 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Horizon Lines, America's largest domestic ocean carrier. The company's mission is to assist logistics companies in applying creative information technology solutions for improving customer service while reducing the cost of doing business. Horizon has entered into a partnership with Microsoft Corp. to design next-generation software for logistics management using Microsoft's new .NET XML-based development technology.

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