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Colorado company tapped to run Illinois Port Authority

Updated: August 23, 2013 6:29AM

A private Colorado-based company has been chosen to run the Illinois Port Authority District, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn announced Sunday.

The Broe Group is expected to invest $500 million in Port facilities over the next 10 years under the plan. Emanuel told reporters Sunday the plan will create up to 1,000 permanent jobs and 3,000 construction jobs.

The deal would also create a new partnership with Olive Harvey College, including internship sponsorships, job placement opportunities and training programs for new hires.

“We’ve been running a port for a long time,” Emanuel said. “We haven’t made an investment since 1981. Thirty-plus years. And people all across the country — port authorities across the country — were passing us by.”

The District, which is tax-exempt, was created by the Illinois General Assembly in 1951 to promote commerce at the Port of Chicago, which is located at Lake Calumet Harbor on the far South Side. The District connects Chicago to the Atlantic via the St. Lawrence Seaway and to the Gulf of Mexico via Illinois rivers and the Mississippi River.

It owns the Port of Chicago, which has facilities at Lake Calumet as well as on Lake Michigan. It’s self-funded and relies on revenues from its tenants in the form of rent and fee payments, according to the city.

The District has operated at a loss in each of the 10 years prior to Emanuel’s appointment of Michael Forde to the board in 2011. It operated in the black for the first time in a decade last year, and Forde told reporters it’s well above budget this year.

The Port board voted Friday morning to open a 60-day negotiating period with The Broe Group, Forde said, after a competitive bid process. If the deal is finalized, Forde said the District expects to receive $1 million annually, along with an additional 10 percent of new revenue that comes into the Port.

The plan establishes a 62-year lease to match the remaining 62 years on existing leases that are already in place at the Port.

The Broe Group is a private, family owned international investment and management company with substantial assets in transportation, real estate and energy, according to the city. The company also operates the Port of Churchill in Canada, Forde said.

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