The following is the text of a news release from the American Great Lakes Ports Association:
(MADISON, Wis.) — The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership hosted its second state capitol day event Wednesday in Madison, Wis. The partnership is a public affairs initiative jointly sponsored by the American Great Lakes Ports Association, the Lake Carriers Association, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. and Fednav Ltd.
Great Lakes Seaway maritime industry executives gathered in the Wisconsin state capitol to help educate policymakers regarding the importance of maritime commerce. The delegation included Mark Barker, president of Interlake Steamship Co.; Mark Pietrocarlo, vice president of American Steamship Co.; Paul Pathy, CEO of Fednav; Steve Fisher, executive director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association; Craig Middlebrook, administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.; Dean Haen, director of the Port of Green Bay; Paul Vornholt, director of the Port of Milwaukee, and Todd Thayse, general manager of Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding.
Industry leaders began the day by briefing state agency leaders on key maritime policy priorities. The roundtable included Scott Neitzell, secretary of the Department of Administration; Mark Gottlieb, secretary of transportation; Tricia Braun, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.; and Matt Maroney, deputy chief of staff to the governor.
During a private lunch with Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, the industry delegation presented a special recognition award to acknowledge Wisconsin's innovative Harbor Assistance Program, which provides grants for port and shipyard infrastructure. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker joined the lunch discussion by conference call after being called away from the state capitol unexpectedly.
The day concluded with a robust roundtable discussion with state legislators. Topics included infrastructure investment, Soo Lock construction, ballast water regulation, economic impact of shipping and the importance of Wisconsin's ports and shipyards.
All three sessions provided industry leaders with an opportunity to stress the importance of Great Lakes Seaway shipping to the state's economy, manufacturers and farmers. Additional discussion focused on the environmental benefits of shipping, investments being made in new ships, and the critical importance of the Soo Locks and St. Lawrence Seaway.
The partnership will be organizing additional state capitol events in Ohio and Michigan during 2017.