Indiana’s status as a top 15 maritime shipping state is a surprise to many, who are unaware of the industry’s estimated $7.8 billion in annual economic impact statewide. But if industry leaders have their way, the state’s shipping sector will become less of a secret. Ports of Indiana Chief Executive Officer Vanta E. Coda II says a proposal has been submitted to designate a stretch along Lake Michigan in northern Indiana and the Ohio River in southern Indiana as maritime districts, which he says would have “great impact” in increasing visibility for the industry, especially within the U.S. Government.

Coda talking about the Indiana ports system and potential for growth on this weekend’s edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.

Indiana’s three ports—Burns Harbor along Lake Michigan in northwest Indiana and Mount Vernon and Jeffersonville along the Ohio River in the southern part of the state—handled an estimated 12.3 million tons of cargo in 2019, down from a record 14.8 million tons the previous year.

Coda says the pandemic has resulted in about a 30 percent drop in business this year.

Still, Coda is bullish on the outlook for Indiana’s shipping industry, noting continued infrastructure investment to boost cargo handling capabilities. The Ports of Indiana-Burns Harbor has announced plans to invest $20 million over four years for improvements, including new railyards, which would double its capacity to handle bulk commodities.

We think in 50-year increments and we’re definitely a buyer of Indiana,” said Coda. “We’re still the crossroads of America so our future is bright coming out of this.”

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