DU QUOIN -- When the Chester Construction Supply company acquired a little over 10 acres of land from the City of Du Quoin last week for about $85,000, the money was nice, but not the real bargain for the city.
"Chester Construction Supply is going to work with the Canadian National Railroad to install a railroad spur so they can move their product (lumber) back-and-forth on the same line," said Mayor Guy Alongi.
That could open Du Quoin up to great economic development at its industrial park northwest of town.
"Whether that happens in a year or two or longer, it's hard to say, but this is the first time we will have rail service available at our industrial park since we opened it up 30 years ago. Over the long haul, this will be huge for the city."
Jeff Ashauer, who serves as the city's economic development director, said the addition of a rail spur is a clear win for Du Quoin. "This is a huge step forward for the city," he said. "There has only been small, incremental growth at best at the industrial park since 1990."
Ashauer said the city will take revenue from the sale of the property, as well as TIF monies, and place new water and sewer lines on the western edge of the park to make it even more attractive to prospective industries.
"There are still a lot of hurdles to get across, but this is a huge step," Ashauer said.
Ashauer added that lumber from British Columbia will be transported on one line all the way from Canada to Du Quoin once the spur is built.
"That will be a much more economical way to transport their product," he said.