Union Pacific Railroad Services Provided

The Client
Union Pacific Railroad - Omaha, Nebraska

The Issue
After encountering stiff opposition in two suburban Chicago communities, Union Pacific Railroad turned to Neil Palmer & Associates for help in siting intermodal operation facilities along its Midwest mainline rail corridor.

Intermodal shipping - using different methods or “modes” of transportation to ship freight without unpacking it – is highly competitive in the United States, growing about 4 percent a year. Union Pacific’s western routes have expanded at almost twice that rate, causing many UP facilities, especially those in the Chicago area, to operate at capacity. UP needed to develop additional intermodal capacity – facilities that enable loading of freight containers on trains and trucks – to maintain its competitive position in the transportation industry.

The Actions
Neil Palmer & Associates led the local affairs effort to develop a 1,200 acre, $181 million facility in Rochelle, a city of 10,000 located in a rural area of north central Illinois. As part of the site development team, Neil Palmer & Associates crafted a strategic public affairs plan that integrated UP’s needs with those of the community. Local concerns and needs were identified and Union Pacific proposals were positioned to benefit the community while enhancing UP’s competitiveness. Communication materials and databases were created to facilitate outreach to all stakeholders, including neighbors, business leaders, elected officials, news media and others.

While the Intermodal project was in keeping with City of Rochelle long-standing effort to diversify and expand its economy, the size and scope of he development necessitated an 18-month campaign to negotiate zoning changes, expansion of an Enterprise Zone and an annexation agreement.

The Results
Serving as UP’s principal representative in Rochelle, Neil led the effort to write and approve new zoning regulations and participated in negotiations that led to an annexation agreement. He also led the effort to expand a neighboring county’s Enterprise Zone to the UP site, which required approval from seven units of government as well as approval of tax abatement from multiple local governments.
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