“Blue Economy” Initiative Aims to Expand Commercial Port Use

Boosters analyze industry’s strengths, promoting its sustainability and other pluses.

Wisconsin’s 29 commercial ports and harbors support nearly 10,000 jobs and ship more than $2.4 billion annually in goods—but there’s plenty of room for expansion. These hauls represent less than five percent of Wisconsin’s total freight volume, even though ship transport is efficient and out-competes ground transport in better air quality, less highway congestion, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. The Wisconsin Coastal Management Program supports, and takes part in, the Wisconsin Commercial Ports Development Initiative, which encourages more Midwest-region businesses to ship freight through state ports and harbors.

One goal is to strengthen Wisconsin’s port presence in some largely untapped Mississippi River and Great Lakes marine areas. To learn more, initiative members completed the first-ever study of the strengths of Wisconsin’s commercial ports:

  • Inventories of port infrastructure and businesses
  • An assessment of its market and commodities
  • An analysis of how state programs, policies, and institutions affect port development
  • Scenarios exploring new maritime transportation corridors and markets

With these findings, the initiative is working to highlight the ports’ significant returns on investment to marine freight networks. Their outreach covers agencies, the state legislature, and business and marine industry groups.

Other initiative collaborators include Brown County, the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute, National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Wisconsin’s Commercial Ports Association, Economic Development Corporation, Department of Transportation, Department of Natural Resources, and Transportation Development Association. (2018)

More Information: Ports Development Initiative

Partners: Brown County, the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute, National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Wisconsin’s Coastal Management Program, Commercial Ports Association, Economic Development Corporation, Department of Transportation, Department of Natural Resources, and Transportation Development Association

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