Manufacturers and exporters in the Sooner State are set to benefit from the recent passage of the $1.1 trillion omnibus budget agreement passed on Dec. 18, 2015. As noted in an editorial in the Tulsa World, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will receive a $1.2 billion budget increase, some of which may be used to upgrade the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, of which the Port of Catoosa is the terminal. Port of Catoosa

As the piece notes, “Over the years, a $150 million public investment at the port has been leveraged to attract more than $1 billion in private investment. Along the waterway, in Oklahoma alone, more than $5 billion in private money has been invested. Employment tops 8,000.”

To read the full editorial, please visit the Tulsa World.


Port of CatoosaRobert Portiss, director of the City of Tulsa-Rogers County Port Authority, was recently named a White House Transportation Champion of Change at a ceremony in Washington D.C. for his work in forging a partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Arkansas-Oklahoma Port Operators Association.

An editorial in the Oct. 13 Tulsa World described Portiss’ work on Oklahoma’s largest seaport, saying “Portiss has been the driving force and head cheerleader for the Port of Catoosa almost since it opened.”

Located just outside Catoosa, Oklahoma, the Port of Catoosa is the head of navigation of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. The port itself is home to Foreign Trade Zone 53, where foreign goods and domestic products are considered outside of the U.S. Customs official territory, making goods inside the FTZ international commerce.

The Tulsa Port of Catoosa has an economic impact of $300 million on Oklahoma, with nearly 5.7 million tons of freight traveling the Oklahoma portions of the waterway in 2012 alone. Customers send and receive more than 2.2 million tons of cargo each year by barge, rail and truck. With more than 60 companies employing more than 4,000 Oklahomans, the Tulsa Port of Catoosa is one of the premier economic engines of Oklahoma. Costing $1.3 billion to complete in 1971, it was the most expensive civil works project ever undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Eningeers. To date, more than $1.5 billion has been invested at the port by private industry, supporting jobs across the northeast parts of Oklahoma.

Top photo: “Aerial photo of the Tulsa Port of Catoosa taken May 5, 2008” by Bsbanks – Aerial photograph with the assistance of John Shoemaker.

Though outsourcing has been of increasing concern for more than a decade in the U.S., the phenomenon is not a new one. In the dark days of the Great Depression, the federal government explored any means necessary to put the country’s workforce back into the factories and offices of the United States. In order to combat the ill-fated 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariffs, Congress passed the Foreign-Trade Zone Act. By designating specific geographic areas in or adjacent to Customs Ports of Entry, the act sought to expedite and encourage foreign commerce in the United States.

Foreign-Trade Zones were designed to alleviate the duty and import burdens on American businesses, thereby promoting jobs and investment at home.
In today’s connected world, where modern technology has mooted major logistical challenges that once plagued firms dealing with foreign vendors, the importance of Foreign-Trade Zones are a key component of keeping American employees and businesses working.

First, Foreign-Trade Zones provide important financial incentives for businesses, specifically by offering duty deferral on goods that enter the country. This includes a duty and quota charge exemption on imported goods that are later re-exported. Firms can also apply to the Foreign-Trade Zone board for an inverted tariff for duty reductions if a lower tariff rate will apply to the finished product when it leaves the zone in comparison to the tariff applied on foreign components.

In terms of logistic costs, firms can also benefit by being granted a weekly, single customs entry charge rather than paying multiple entry fees. The FTZ can also save time for businesses importing components by eliminating duties on rejected and defective items.

In its ongoing mission to promote both jobs and investment in Oklahoma, the state currently boasts four Foreign-Trade Zones. The Port of Catoosa’s FTZ 53 is located in the northeast portion of the state surrounding the Tulsa metropolitan area. Run by the City of Tulsa-Rogers County Port Authority FTZ 53 also contains two subzones in the Claremore Industrial Park and Claremore Regional Airport. Also serving the state’s northeast is The Port of Muskogee FT 164, which is run by the Muskogee City-County Port Authority. Located at the confluence of the Arkansas, Grand and Verdigris Rivers, the Port of Muskogee is a prime location to ship bulk cargo anywhere in the world via the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas Navigation System.

Oklahoma City’s FTZ 106 is located next to Will Rogers World Airport, with an additional 71 million living within a 500-mile radius of its operations. The site is near three interstate highway routes in I-35, I-40 and I-44, meaning it can provide next-day service to the entire country. FTZ 106 also boasts two magnet sites in Enid Woodring Regional Airport and the Shawnee Regional Airport in addition to a usage-driven designated site at VF Jeanswear in Seminole, Okla. Through the utilization of the recently upgraded Alternative Site Framework, FTZ 106 has streamlined its alternative site designation process. Alternative sites can be identified, appraised and approved in around 30-45 days.

Serving the state’s southeast and the nearby Dallas-Fort Worth area is FTZ 227. This zone is comprised of the three separate sites of the International Business Park of Durant, Okla., the Ardmore Industrial Airpark, and the Westport Industrial Complex, also located in Ardmore. FTZ 227 is in close proximity to Highway 69/75, the direct route from Laredo, Texas to Kansas City. This motorway also passes through both the Port of Muskogee FT 164 and Port of Catoosa FTZ 53. It is less than 100 miles from interstate highways like I-25, I-40, I-20 and I-45, and is within an hour’s drive of Dallas, a national cargo distribution center.

Oklahoma’s geographic location in the heart of the continental United States allows it to benefit from its four Foreign-Trade Zones. Companies based here or partnering with firms based in the state also stand to benefit from the advantages that come with an FTZ designation. If you would like to learn more about doing business or investment in Oklahoma, please visit the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team at The Governor’s International Team (GIT) is a group of citizens representing private industry, government, education and non-profits from across the state of Oklahoma who are dedicated to help shape a stronger Oklahoma in the global economy.

Tulsa Port of Catoosa photo courtesy of