Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 6:52 PM
Officials at the Cleveland-Cuyahoga Port Authority say they’re close to completing a deal that would open a regular freight service between the Great Lakes and Northern Europe. ideastream’s Nick Castele says the port hopes to have the service up and running in the spring.
The Port Authority is working out an agreement to charter ships with Dutch company Spliethoff Group. They would carry goods like car parts, electronics and chemicals -- and would allow Northeast Ohio companies to export heavy machinery by water.
If all goes according to plan, the ships will come to Cleveland at least once a month.
Port CEO Will Friedman said the regularity gives local companies a shipping option they can plan for.
“It gives us in Ohio, in Northeast Ohio, a direct connection, from our docks, nonstop scheduled – and that’s important to emphasize, so that shippers, those companies that need to move the freight, can integrate this into their supply chains," Friedman said.
Former Ohio Congresswoman Betty Sutton now administers the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. She says shipping in and out of Cleveland could be more efficient than sending goods by truck to and from ports on the East Coast.
“If we can cut time off the travel by bringing it right into the heartland by water, and also reduce costs maybe related to energy...then that is something I think businesses are going to be responsive to," Sutton said.
This announcement comes less than two weeks before Cuyahoga County voters decide whether to renew the port’s operating levy. The levy costs homeowners $3.50 for every hundred thousand dollars of property value, the levy campaign says. According to the port, the levy accounts for an average 35 percent of the port's budget.