Missouri committee recommends rehab, childcare, rail tax credits for supply chain woes

(The Center Square) – Drug rehabilitation, childcare subsidies and tax credits for railroads are a few of the 33 recommendations given to Gov. Mike Parson from the Missouri Supply Chain Task Force, after he requested solutions to problems created by the pandemic.

A draft of the task force’s final report is available for public comment until Friday. Last November, Parson identified the global pandemic recovery, increases in consumer demand and worker shortages as some of the reasons for his executive order creating the task force. The 79-page report grouped the recommendations into three broad categories: targeted freight investments, opportunities to support workforce needs and regulatory and programming opportunities.

Seven targeted freight investments were identified and fall into four categories: first- and last-mile rail investment, container and chassis manufacturing, investment in container-on-vessel shipping and economic development grant opportunities.

Rail investments include spending general revenue funds for short-line railroads and implementing infrastructure tax credits to support reinvestment in the sector.

The report said manufacturing large containers in Missouri would reduce future delays, as 95% of international intermodal cargo containers are made in China. Expanding the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers ports would allow container-on-vessel services to ship throughout the waterways. The task force recommended grants for developing infrastructure for multimodal projects – shipping on truck, rail, air and vessel.

There are 15 workforce recommendations in readiness, childcare, housing and transportation. Recommendations include childcare subsidies for employees and employers, and incentives for on-site childcare. It suggests continuing the State Assistance for Housing Relief for Renters to expand subsidies. Similarly, it mentions continuing the Affordable Housing Assistance Program and its tax credits so nonprofit community-based organizations can provide housing.

A public-private partnership with transit service providers is suggested to provide workforce transportation for the employer’s workers and ride-sharing companies to subsidize rides.

One of the 11 recommendations in the regulatory and programming opportunities is providing resources for drug rehabilitation facilities to reduce the number of truck drivers leaving the field. Four recommendations pertain to driver training and credentialing. It also requests additional truck parking in Missouri, as demand exceeds capacity by 2,300 spaces during nighttime peak periods.

The task force was co-chaired by Patrick McKenna, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, and Mardy Leathers, director of the Office of Workforce Development in the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development. The executive order dissolves the task force on June 30.

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