Saint Paul is a historic river town through and through, and unless one lives or works here – or visits regularly – this can be easy to overlook.

A stately march of tow boats behind groups of barges navigate the mighty Mississippi in both directions along the city’s riverbanks. These barges are filled with a mix of materials that range from petroleum products and recycled metal and cement to grain and minerals.

Barges move millions of tons of raw materials on the Mississippi River every year in one of the most efficient and environmentally responsible ways possible. The lion’s share ends up feeding the livestock of the world. Goods are both on- and off-loaded at Saint Paul’s four river terminals around the clock during the shipping season.

The commerce and business activity that happens on the Mississippi has been an integral component of the city’s history, its economy and diverse character. This relationship is even more evident today considering the important role the river plays for many local and regional residents.

The Saint Paul Port Authority continues to be an active advocate to protect and enhance commercial activity on the river to positively impact Saint Paul into the future. Access to the river for responsible commerce allows many local – and new – business opportunities to thrive and provides support for thousands of good-paying jobs.

Where the river once helped companies reach customers in other states, recent changes far from Saint Paul have expanded that opportunity. Additional markets across the globe are now open to goods and services that originate here as well, thanks in part to the financial, legal and development assistance for which the Saint Paul Port Authority has become known.

Saint Paul’s future as a vibrant community and economy is connected to the river. While much has happened to clean the river and restore the riverfront and our community’s connection to the Mississippi, there is an important balance that also includes making sure the river continues to support families with sustainable, good-paying jobs. The Saint Paul Port Authority’s mission starts with managing the business centers on the river in a way that is both fiscally responsible and in line with the broader community vision for the Mississippi.

Our city and its economy are stronger when we have a balanced mix of uses that respect the environment, engage the community and support the need to embrace the economic power of the river. We view our role as an economic advocate and will remain focused on being a creditable voice for the companies on the river and their employees, in a way that enhances the Mississippi.