Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative

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The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI) was created to provide an influential voice for the Mississippi River, dramatically increasing demand for effective river protection, restoration, and management in Washington, DC. It addresses matters of mutual concern, including:  river water quality and habitat restoration, flooding and floodplain issues, river-focused recreation, sustainable economies, and celebration of the River culture and history.

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Shawn Flaherty, 703-554-3609

Mississippi River Mayors Announce Delegation to UN Climate Change Meeting as well as Celebrate Victory with President’s FY 2016 Budget
Mayors Partner with Kingdom of Netherlands on Climate Change Issues

WASHINGTON, DC (March 19, 2015)—Mississippi River Mayors announced that they are forming a delegation to attend the UN’s COP21 meeting in Paris as well as claiming a victory as the President’s budget proposes a record level for the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program. The 18 Mayors were in DC attending a two-day meeting for the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI), a mayor-led effort comprised of 68 River Mayors committed to creating a coordinated voice for the Mississippi River.

“With years of experience with droughts, floods and hurricanes, the Mississippi Mayors have some expertise with climate disruption and resilience. That’s why we are joining the global discussion by partnering with a nation that’s leading the way and attending a key UN meeting,” said MRCTI Co-Chair AC Wharton, Mayor of Memphis. “Our future depends on working together locally and globally.”

With guidance from the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Washington, DC—long considered a global leader in climate mitigation, the River Mayors are assembling a delegation to travel to Paris for COP21—the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Netherlands has made remarkable advances in maximizing the benefits of near-water while minimizing the risks of those landscapes, and is seen as a world leader in developing and implementing climate adaptation practices. In addition, the Rhine Basin of the Netherlands and the Mississippi River share key similarities.

“Major river basins—like the Mississippi—are responsible for a significant portion of the world’s food production. As demand for food grows exponentially, we will all need to work together to ensure these basins are resilient to the impacts of climate disruption,” explained MRCTI Co-Chair Roy Buol, Mayor of Dubuque, IA.

To get started, the Mayors met with the U.S. State Department and members from the major environmental organizations to ask for assistance in orchestrating an international side-bar conversation with the other major river basins of the world: the Amazon, Paraná, Rhine, Danube, Volga, Ganges, Euphrates/Tigris, and Yellow Rivers.

Also, after three years of hard work, the Mayors claimed a significant victory during their DC meeting with respect to the President’s FY 2016 budget, which proposes an all-time high level of $200 million for FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) Grant Program without tying the spending to tax reform. PDM reduces threats to Mississippi River Valley populations and structures by funding preparation in advance of natural disasters, while also reducing the River region’s reliance upon Federal post-disaster recovery funds. MRCTI has called on Congress and the Administration to preserve and fully fund the program. Further, the Mayors applauded the Administration’s support of the National Flood Insurance Program Risk Mapping at a level of $400 million, a sizeable increase over current funding levels.

Other participating Mayors in the meeting included: Larry Brown, Natchez, MS; Paxton Branch, Tallulah, LA; Donnie Brown, New Madrid, MO; Belinda Constant, Gretna, LA; Hyram Copeland, Vidalia, LA; John Cox, Greenville, MS; George Flaggs, Vicksburg, MS; Tim Kabat, La Crosse, WI; Dave Klies, St. Cloud, MN; David Lattus, Hickman, KY; Tim McNeil, Dayton, MN; Sarah Jane Nicoll, Sartell, MN; Jo Anne Smiley, Clarksville, MO; James Spann, Hartford, IL; Tom Thompson, Grafton, IL; and Mark Vulich, Clinton, IA.

Organized by the Northeast-Midwest Institute and funded by the Walton Foundation, MRCTI is an effort to bring national attention back to the Mississippi River—America’s most critical natural asset—and spearhead a new level of regional cooperation to make it more sustainable. As the ecological linchpin to the 37-state Mississippi River Basin, the River is responsible for creating $200 billion worth of U.S. GDP; providing drinking water for more than 18 million; transporting 62 percent of our nation’s agricultural output; delivering nearly 400 tons of coal and petroleum products; and directly supporting one million jobs and millions more indirectly.

More information at www.nemw.org.

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2015 Policy Platform of the Mayors along the Mississippi River

MRCTI March 17-19, 2015 Capitol Meeting Agenda

Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative: An Effort of the Mayors Along the Waterway

Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative: Member Cities

Selected Presentations & Photos from the 2014 MRCTI Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA

Welcome Reception David Muth, Louisiana State Director, National Wildlife Federation Session: Navigational Commerce: Panama Canal Expansion & Impacts on the Mississippi River  Gary LaGrange, Chief Executive Office, Port of New Orleans Session: Funding Work to Improve Near-Water Communities Alison Dorsey, Social Impact Manager, LinkedIn Corp. Session: Achieving Climate Resiliency in the Mississippi River Valley Michael Hecht, CEO, Greater New Orleans, Inc. Session: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, our Closest Partner Edward E. Belk, Jr., Sr. Executive Service, Mississippi River Commission, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Session: Realizing Environmental Excellence and Sustainable Development for the Mississippi River James Cummins, Executive Director, Mississippi River Trust Session: The Future of the Trust Funds that Maintain our Infrastructure Martin Hettel, Chair, Inland Waterways Users Board Remarks: Dominik Knoll, Chair World Trade Center Mississippi River Alliance PHOTOS  (Photos by Erin Dey. All rights reserved.)

2014 MRCTI Annual Meeting

MRCTI Mayors Mitch Landrieu (New Orleans) and co-chair Roy Buol (Dubuque) sign agreement with Dominik Knoll, chair, World Trade Center Mississippi River Alliance, and Don Hickman, chairman, Mississippi River Partnership of Community Foundations, to work together toward sustainable River projects. The announcement was made during the MRCTI annual meeting held recently in New Orleans. Photo by: Erin Dey.

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For Immediate Release                                     Contact:  Shawn Flaherty, 703-554-3609

Two Major Sustainability Efforts Announced by Mayors Wharton, Buol, Landrieu and 22 Other Mayors to Promote Mississippi River Commerce and Health

American Water Writes Inaugural Check for Sustainable Development Fund 

New Orleans (September 17, 2014)—Twenty-five Mayors gathered in New Orleans to unveil the Mississippi River Sustainable Development Fund and a partnership between the Mississippi River World Trade Center Alliance and 18 Community Foundations serving communities along the River. Hosted by Mayor Landrieu, the Mayors were attending a two-day annual meeting for the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI), a mayor-led effort comprised of 65 River Mayors committed to creating a coordinated voice for the Mississippi River.

“As MRCTI members, we have been able to collectively bring national attention back to America’s most important river.  Our livelihoods, health, and futures are all linked to the Mississippi River; and I am proud to host these Mayors as we protect and promote our precious waterway,” explained New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

With an initial $15,000 contribution from American Water, the Fund will provide grants to support start-up costs associated with sustainable waterfront development and will provide valuable seed-money for city sustainable waterfront development projects. Cities from Minnesota to Louisiana have developed remarkable plans for riverfront parks, ecosystem restoration, the establishment of green tourism destinations, repair of critical water infrastructure, or expansion of economic engines such as ports and terminals. Typically, the most difficult funding to secure are start-up costs, so this fund will help ensure that projects like these get off the ground.

In announcing the Fund, MRCTI Co-Chair Roy Buol, Mayor of Dubuque, IA said: “Every dollar invested in water infrastructure yields two dollars in economic development. Infrastructure is the physical platform of our economy; and we mayors want to do what we can to sustain that platform. This fund gives us another way.”

Also, during the conference, MRCTI Mayor co-chairs, Dominik Knoll, chair, World Trade Center Mississippi River Alliance—consisting of seven World Trade Centers, and Don Hickman, chairman, Mississippi River Partnership of Community Foundations—representing 18 community foundations, signed an agreement to work together toward sustainable River projects. The partnership will build investments around river-centric projects at the local level. Now, community foundations can partner with their world trade center for assistance in completing any number of initiatives that are linked to the Mississippi.

“The partnership will encourage big and imaginative efforts that will improve our River communities. Anything from youth enrichment programs that engage students in the importance of the River’s ecology and economy to restoration projects that reclaim natural landscapes from previous, less sustainable uses are on the table,” explained MRCTI Co-Chair AC Wharton, Mayor of Memphis.

Other participating Mayors included: Dan Bender, Red Wing, MN; Paxton Branch, Tallulah, LA; Donnie Brown, New Madrid, MO; Edward Brown, St. Joseph, LA; Larry Brown, Natchez, MS; Belinda Constant, Gretna, LA; Hyram Copeland, Vidalia, LA; John Cox III, Greenville, MS; George Flaggs, Vicksburg, MS; Robert S. Gallagher, Bettendorf, IA; Kip Holden, Baton Rouge, LA; Lionel Johnson, St. Gabriel, LA; David Kleis, St. Cloud, MN; David Lattus, Hickman, KY; Richard Lee, Port Allen, LA; Russell Loven, Guttenberg, IA; Harry Rediger, Cape Girardeau, MO; Francis Slay, St. Louis, MO; Jo Anne Smiley, Clarksville, MO; Tom Thompson, Grafton, IL; Mark Vulich, Clinton, IA; and Brant Walker, Alton, IL.

Organized by the Northeast-Midwest Institute and funded by the Walton Family Foundation, MRCTI is an effort to bring national attention back to the Mississippi River—America’s most critical natural asset—and spearhead a new level of regional cooperation to make it more sustainable.  As the ecological linchpin to the 37-state Mississippi River Basin, the River is responsible for creating $200 billion worth of U.S. GDP; providing drinking water for more than 18 million; transporting 62 percent of our nation’s agricultural output; delivering nearly 400 tons of coal and petroleum products; and directly supporting one million jobs and millions more indirectly.

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2014 MRCTI Annual Meeting Flyer

Join mayors from along the Mississippi River for their 3rd Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA

This meeting is by invitation only. If you are interested in attending but have not received an invitation, please send your inquiry to Colin Wellenkamp, Director, Mississippi River and Cities and Towns Initiative at the Northeast-Midwest Institute, explaining why you would like to attend.

To register, please send an email to Colin Wellenkamp, Director, Mississippi River and Cities and Towns Initiative at the Northeast-Midwest Institute detailing the name, affiliation, and contact information for all those in your party that will be attending. There is no cost to attend all meeting functions. Hotel and travel accommodations are the responsibility of meeting attendees.

Invited guests can log onto the Westin New Orleans Canal Place website to make their reservation.

2014 MRCTI Annual Meeting Agenda.

2014 MRCTI Second Quarter Member Roster.

 

Mayors move container-on-barge shipping forward

April 29, 2014, St. Louis, MO: Mayors of the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI) gathered in St. Louis for the Annual Meeting of the Inland Rivers Ports & Terminals Association (IRPT). At the meeting, IRPT committed to working with the Mayors to realize container-on-barge shipping on the Mississippi River once again. IRPT President Hugh McConnell signed, along with Mayor Slay of St. Louis, the MRCTI Sustainable Economies Resolution pledging their commitment to container-on-barge shipping for the Mississippi.

“IRPT’s support will help propel this container-on-barge shipping line forward.  We expect it will have a significant impact on our River region by providing jobs and improving transportation,” said Mayor Slay.  “It will position us to be a global economic force, ensuring we better use the River assets to increase the region’s economic health and competitiveness.”

The line was initially unveiled by MRCTI in October at the Mississippi River Economy Summit held in Memphis.  This effort builds-off the container shipping line previously run from Memphis to New Orleans and the line about to be initiated by the IL Soybean Association.

With early commitments from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Chism Hardy Investments, Ingram Barge Company, Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals, the line will relieve freight congestion, create economic opportunity for River ports and other intermodal industries, and attract investment in River infrastructure. These organizations—and more—are expected to also sign the resolution before the fall.  The resolution will be presented to the U.S. Maritime Administration as a next step in making the program a reality under the Administration’s Marine Highway Program.

Container-on-barge shipping is a common way to distribute goods in other parts of the world, including Europe and China, and will create significant efficiencies in the transportation of goods and services and relieve freight bottlenecks on the in-land waterway system.  According to the Department of Transportation, these traffic jams cost the American economy $200 billion annually.

MRCTI Past Meetings Archives