Economic Impact Study Results Released; Great Lakes-Seaway shipping supports 227,000 jobs

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

 Duluth, MN - USA (October 18, 2011) - The Great Lakes maritime industry today released the results of a year-long study of the economic impacts of the entire Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway navigation system. The study was commissioned by members of the marine shipping industry, in partnership with U.S. and Canadian government agencies.  Martin Associates of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a global leader in transportation economic analysis and strategic planning, was retained to conduct the study.

The study found that maritime commerce along this waterway supported 227,000 jobs; contributed $14.1 billion in annual personal income, $33.5 billion in business revenue, and $6.4 billion in local purchases; and added $4.6 billion to federal, state/provincial, and local tax revenues. North American farmers, steel producers, construction firms, food manufacturers, and power generators depend on the 164 million metric tons of essential raw materials and finished products that are moved annually on the system. Additionally, marine shipping saves companies approximately $3.6 billion per year in transportation costs compared to the next least-costly land-based alternative.

"For the first time we have a definitive, detailed, peer-reviewed study documenting the enormous contribution which the maritime industry provides to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway region," said Collister Johnson, Jr., Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. "The jobs sustained by the maritime industry include not only those located directly on the waterfront - longshoremen, terminal employees, vessel operators, pilots, and truckers - but also steelworkers, miners, grain farmers, and construction workers, many of whose jobs would disappear but for a vibrant, healthy maritime industry."

The Port of Duluth-Superior anchors the westernmost tip of the entire Great Lakes-Seaway. "As the largest tonnage port on the Great Lakes, we know what an integral role maritime commerce plays in the economic vitality of this entire region," noted Adolph Ojard, Executive Director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. "But to finally have a system-wide study done with reliable data that helps identify the public return on investment now provides a framework for developing maritime policy at all levels of government to ensure this transportation corridor remains viable."

At a press conference call today with John D. Porcari, the U.S. Transportation Deputy Secretary revealed the study numbers and fielded questions from the media. U.S. Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, expressed his support for the study results. "This report bears out what we've long known - that the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway is crucial to the U.S. economy. Not only is marine transportation the single most fuel-efficient and cost-effective way to haul goods from one place to another, but it also supports hundreds of thousands of essential jobs and generates billions of dollars in economic activity."

The report provides the navigation community, transportation planners, government policy makers and the general public with a realistic assessment of the contributions made by the Great Lakes-Seaway system to the federal, state/provincial, and local economies. The region depends on ocean vessels, U.S. and Canadian lake carriers, and barges to deliver iron ore, coal, stone, salt, sugar, grain, steel, wind turbine components, and heavy machinery to keep bi-national businesses running.

Steven A. Fisher, Executive Director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association, touted the value of the report to his members, "This report validates what the Association has long contended - that the Great Lakes-Seaway navigation system is vital to the continued prosperity of the region. A multitude of maritime jobs - on land and at sea - work together to help ensure that goods and services are enjoyed by a vast customer base."

The Executive Summary and full report can be found at or on the the Port Authority's website or

Questions concerning the study methodology should be directed to Steve Fisher, American Great Lakes Ports Association, 202-625-2102.




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