Despite its proximity to a briney body of water, Salt Lake City has never had port facilities. Now a group of local business people and government officials want to change that.

Salt Lake County will spend $30,000 to $50,000 of federal grant money over the next several months to study the feasibility of creating an inland port authority.Such an authority would develop facilities to promote import and export activity through Salt Lake City. Officials say a port authority could make the county the foreign trade center for the intermountain region, with potential to pump millions of dollars into the local economy and create hundreds of jobs.

The county's transportation infrastructure and its concentration of residents with foreign language and cultural experience would be an asset to international trade, said County Commissioner Bart Barker.

Numerous inland cities have port authorities, and such centers are growing because of congestion at coastal ports, said county economic development manager Linda Lundgren.