The Beehive State is set to be home to a second inland port, with the latest being located in southern Utah.

The Utah Inland Port Authority Board of Directors last week unanimously approved the Iron Springs Project Area resolution, creating Utah's first-ever rural inland port in Iron County.

Ben Hart, executive director of the Utah Inland Port Authority, said that the move will help support and boost a rapidly growing southern Utah.

Iron County's 4.3% growth in 2022 led all counties in the state.

"As we look at having this type of facility, it gives the businesses a much more enhanced ability to get their products and commodities not only domestically, but internationally. And for those communities that want to import, bring products in, it gives them a whole new capability in that regard as well," Hart said.

Economic impact

The Iron Springs Project Area, located just northwest of Cedar City, will cover 820 acres and is part of the Commerce Crossroads Logistics Park. Hart noted that there's a "very important nexus" between the inland port facility itself and the rest of the 820 acres that make up the project area.

The project area, Hart said, is a geographical designation that will allow the Utah Inland Port Authority to make "strategic reinvestments" back into the Iron Springs Project Area and the surrounding communities.

"We're able to use property taxes derived from that project area, and we're able to use that for public infrastructure, to help pay for the cost of the facility. We can provide incentives to businesses to relocate and in this case, in Iron Springs; we're also able to invest in things like affordable housing, all in conjunction with Iron County," Hart continued.

"The abilities that come with not only the inland port facility, but also the project area. That's where we see really, really significant energy that will allow us to help optimize this entire region economically, we hope, for generations to come."

Hart estimated that the tax revenue generated through the port, which he said will be reinvested back into the local community, to be somewhere in near $100 million.

Additionally, he expects the site to bring 4,000 to 6,000 new jobs that will be high-paying and attract workers to the region.

The location of the Iron Springs Inland Port is pictured. A second inland port is coming to the Beehive State, this time in southern Utah. Here's how it's expected to impact the region.
The location of the Iron Springs Inland Port is pictured. A second inland port is coming to the Beehive State, this time in southern Utah. Here's how it's expected to impact the region. | Utah Inland Port Authority

'Inland Port 2.0'

The Utah Inland Port Authority, along with Iron County Economic Development Director Danny Stewart last month presented the process of the proposal to Iron County Commissioners. The framework and initial resolution to create an inland port project area in Iron County included a period for public comments and an environmental assessment of the land and its surroundings.

Hart emphasized that the process undertaken to move forward with the Iron Springs Project Area represents a "definite departure" from some of the issues that plagued the Utah Inland Port Authority over the last year, and that Hart himself previously described as "sketchy crap."

"We hope this is Inland Port 2.0. This really is our new focus: How do we help communities? How do we help local economies, and how do we help with logistics?" Hart said. "I think, now, we're right in that sweet spot of trying to help all three of those groups, but we have to go through a public process to make sure that we're doing this in the right way and getting feedback from everyone involved."

Hart said that for the most part, the public reception around the latest project area has been "overwhelmingly positive."

As far as a timeline for the completion of the project, Hart said that there are different stages of completion for the entirety of the project area, but that the inland port facility is looking like a 12- to 18-month buildout.

The Iron Springs Project Area itself, which compromises over 800 acres, is expected to take around 25 years to be fully completed.

"Every step along the way, you know, we hope that there's going to be really cool announcements as new businesses come into the area that will be located on the site," Hart said. "There will be different announcements, you know, for the larger development, kind of, all along the way."

"This is project No. 2. We've got project No. 1 that's in the northwest quadrant of Salt Lake City, so we'll continue to help that area build out around the international airport but we're going to start to be much more active working with communities all across the state," Hart said. "We feel like we're on our way and we're going to have a chance to be working throughout the entire state."