James Wooldridge, Deseret News
A section of land looking northeast at 7200 West and I-80 that is part of the proposed Utah Inland Port in Salt Lake City on Monday, July 16, 2018.

It’s not often that a large industrial development can be built from the ground up — brand new — using the world’s best practices for sustainability, innovation, advanced technology and clean energy/low emissions.

The opportunity to build just such a 21st-century inland intermodal logistics hub is what attracted Jack C. Hedge to take the job of executive director of the Utah Inland Port Authority. He started work just last week and is committed to collaborating with all stakeholders to build the nation’s most modern, innovative and environmentally friendly port.

Hedge is no stranger to big projects and large industrial organizations. He comes from the Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s No. 1 container port, where he was director of cargo and industrial real estate. Port of Los Angeles covers 7,500 acres of land and water, with more than 300 leaseholders.

Hedge has more than 20 years of experience in asset acquisition, development, operations, management and finance in the port, energy and utility industries.

Port of Los Angeles just had its busiest May in its 112-year history, moving 828,662 20-foot equivalent units, a new record. Hedge and his team were responsible for facilities and business transactions generating more than $400 million in annual revenue for the port. Notably, the Port of Los Angeles prides itself on its conservation ethic. It calls itself a “global model for sustainability, security and social responsibility.” In that regard, Hedge is ideally suited to help resolve some of the opposition to Utah’s Inland Port, which has been criticized by Salt Lake City’s mayor and environmental activists.

Hedge brings a strong conservation commitment to Utah’s Inland Port, with the full support of the board of trustees and all stakeholders. In fact, a major factor in his decision to accept the job was the opportunity to develop a brand new logistics center that leads the world’s ports in protecting the environment, while facilitating global trade and providing jobs that can support a family.

Hedge believes Utah’s environment and quality of life can be protected, even as the port becomes a vibrant intermodal logistics center with manufacturing, warehousing and distribution. It won’t be easy, and will require collaboration among all stakeholders. But high standards and innovation, along with clean energy technologies, can enable robust commerce while improving air and water quality.

The Utah Inland Port sits in Salt Lake City’s northwest quadrant, at the intersection of two interstate freeways, major national railways and an international airport. The general area is already bustling with expanding trucking, warehouse, distribution and manufacturing businesses.

Creating a collaborative vision and plan under the jurisdiction of an authority is the best way to control sprawl and unfettered growth, and avoid environmental damage, while still encouraging vibrant commerce and job creation.

Relationships with coastal ports and with leaders across the country in the logistics industry will be important to the success of the Utah Inland Port. Hedge brings those relationships to the job.

Nothing is more important to the success of the port than involving all stakeholders in meaningful ways. To that end, the port authority has created six working groups that will advise the port authority on key topics, including Air Quality; Environment, Recreation & Habitat; Workforce, Education & Corporate Recruitment; Transportation & Port Technology; Satellite Port Development; and Roads, Rail and Air.

Diverse groups of experts and advocates from conservation groups, business, local government, nonprofits, and community organizations serve on the working groups.

14 comments on this story

Hedge said he is impressed with Salt Lake City’s existing master plan for the Northwest Quadrant. He expects the plan’s elements to be incorporated into the port vision, and looks forward to working closely with Salt Lake City officials.

I welcome Jack Hedge as the new executive director. He brings the right experience, expertise, relationships, environmental ethic and collaborative attitude to do a great job for Utah.

While the inland port has not been without controversy in its formative months, I believe it can be a remarkable success — creating good jobs and a strong economy while protecting the environment.