Opportunity Belt students get primer on maritime careers


The following is the text of a blog by Betty Sutton, administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., posted on the U.S. Department of Transportation website:

(WASHINGTON) — To increase outreach with minority-serving institutions, Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. (SLSDC) Deputy Administrator Craig Middlebrook met with officials from the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) in downtown Milwaukee back in June 2015. The discussion focused on opportunities for the SLSDC, the Port of Milwaukee and others to engage with area students and raise awareness about career opportunities in maritime transportation and waterway logistics.

The effort was part of our strategic vision and ongoing commitment to highlight the Great Lakes region as an Opportunity Belt for economic growth and job creation.  

From these early discussions, we embarked upon an exciting new initiative: SLSDC would host a marine transportation forum at MATC featuring local employers and others associated with marine transportation and waterway logistics. And last November, we did exactly that.

On Nov. 10, 2015, the SLSDC, partnering with the Maritime Administration (MarAd) and MATC, conducted its first marine transportation forum. Through moderator SLSDC Director of Civil Rights Wayne Williams, we introduced area college students to the many opportunities available in maritime transportation. The panel discussion allowed industry leaders, educators and entrepreneurs to share their perspectives on why maritime transportation matters. It also allowed them to discuss best practices for pursuing maritime transportation careers. 

Nearly 60 students participated either in person or via video teleconferencing offered by MATC across southeastern Wisconsin.

Participants included:

Tom Rayburn – environmental regulatory director, Lake Carriers' Association (LCA)
Owen Doherty – associate administrator for business and finance development, U.S. Maritime Administration
Paul Vornholt – port eirector, Port of Milwaukee
Ken Szallai – president and partner, Lake Express Corp.
Sal Pisani – associate administrator, Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. (SLSDC)
Helen Brohl – executive director, Committee on the Marine Transportation System (CMTS)
Adam Schlicht – economic development specialist, SLSDC
Nichols Grahovac – foreign trade zone representative, Port of Milwaukee

The November event was such a success that MATC has partnered with the Port of Milwaukee to bring students to the port so they can see firsthand the compatibility between MATC academic programs and the range of port job opportunities.

Here at SLSDC, we see this partnership as a collaborative model for building the pipelines that will feed our industry with diverse, innovative, and technically competent talent for years to come. Both the deputy administrator and I stand shoulder to shoulder in our support for initiatives that provide opportunities to bring greater diversity to the marine transportation industry. 

We call the Great Lakes region the Opportunity Belt for a reason, and we’re proud of our efforts to share the region’s maritime opportunities with area students. Look for SLSDC to continue these efforts in 2016!

By Professional Mariner Staff