State Sen. Matt Castlen is slowly developing a private riverport on the old Green River Steel property east of Owensboro.

Last week, American River Transportation Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., announced that it is partnering with Castlen Steel for barge fleeting and cleaning.

Castlen will build a facility for ADM to store fertilizer to sell to retail outlets and farmers in the region.

Fertilizer will come in by barge and go out by truck and rail.

The facility is expected to be open by late fall.

ADM ranked No. 54 in the 2020 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations.

ARTCO will operate barge fleeting and cleaning services at the terminal.

Castlen said ARTCO will create about two dozen jobs.

“It’s exciting news,” he said. “We’re seeing new growth in the community.”

Castlen said, “We’re slowly developing our terminal.”

In 2016, he bought a locomotive to move material from his terminal to the CSX Railroad main line, which is nearby.

Today, Castlen said, he has 100 employees at Castlen Steel and eight at the terminal.

“We have 92 acres out here to develop,” he said.

And as a private riverport, Castlen said, “We pay taxes.”

The company’s website says, “We provide raw steel, grain and fertilizer handling facilities, crane services, mechanical contracting, repairs, and deal in both agriculture and commercial erection services.”

Ironically, the property almost became part of the Owensboro Riverport Authority.

In April 2005, after four years of negotiations that began when the steel mill closed in February 2001, the Riverport Authority bought the property from the Reserve Group of Akron, Ohio, for $1.75 million with plans to create a second river terminal and another industrial park in the community.

But in the fall of 2007, the riverport board decided that the cost of developing the terminal — an estimated $23 million — was just too steep.

The property was put back on the market that year.

On Jan. 17, 2008, Louisville-based Mammoth Marine Inc. announced plans to buy the property and hire 150 people for the state-of-the-art, barge-building facility it hoped to open there.

But the recession caught up with the company and nothing happened.

Then, in 2014, Castlen and his wife, Laura, bought the 92-acre property from the Riverport Authority for $2.6 million to expand their business, then called Castlen Welding and Manufacturing.

Castlen said he expects the terminal to continue to develop.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301 klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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