The following is text of a news release from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority:
(CLEVELAND) — Reporting solid numbers during the 2017 navigation season and looking ahead to an even stronger 2018, the Port of Cleveland announces Great Lakes developments aimed at continuing to build northeast Ohio’s global competitiveness.
2017 navigation season
The port saw an overall increase in economic activity, including handling 464,000 metric tons of general cargo (iron, steel and steel slabs). “International tonnage increased almost 20 percent compared to 2016 due to increased business in a number of sectors, including non-containerized steel, imported containers, and a number of project cargo moves to various power plants around the Midwest,” said Dave Gutheil, vice president of maritime and logistics at the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority.
Great Lakes Waterways Conference
More than 200 leaders, experts and influencers from across the maritime industry gathered in Cleveland for the 2018 Great Lakes Waterways Conference on Feb. 6 and 7. The annual bi-national meeting between the U.S. and Canada focused on topics including autonomous technology, government partnerships, wind energy and vessel safety.
The Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo) shared plans about Icebreaker Wind, a six-turbine, 20.7-megawatt offshore wind project eight miles from downtown Cleveland in Lake Erie — the first freshwater wind project in North America.
“We want to be a leader in this industry and put northeast Ohio on the map,” Dave Karpinski, vice president of operations at LEEDCo, said during the conference. “The wind resource of the Great Lakes is vast. It’s tremendous.”
According to Karpinski, LEEDCo is on track to obtain all permits for the build and construction, which is scheduled to start in 2020.
Cruise and water-based trips to Cleveland on the rise
In 2017, the port welcomed nine passenger vessels to Cleveland, which brought 1,500 passengers to the city. “We expect this number to double during the 2018 season,” said Gutheil. “The rise in luxury and sight-seeing cruises speaks to the growing tourism sector in Greater Cleveland.”
These water-based trips, ranging from sightseeing and customized dining to private charters on Lake Erie and along the Cuyahoga River, typically showcase points of interest including historic bridges, lighthouses, a Coast Guard station, Cleveland’s distinctive skyline and more.
50th anniversary shipping season
Acting as a critical gateway between northeast Ohio and the global economy, the port handles a variety of cargoes including steel, wind turbine components and bulk products. It is one of the largest ports on the Great Lakes and the first major U.S. port of call on the Great Lakes for ships transiting the St. Lawrence Seaway.
“Since 1968, the port has been a critical engine for our community, a key to northeast Ohio’s global competitiveness and an important partner in building Cuyahoga County’s future,” said Jade Davis, vice president of external affairs at the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. “As we prepare to celebrate our 50th anniversary year, we look forward to continued growth and exciting developments that will impact our region in a positive way.”