In a move that Ports of Indiana Chief Executive Officer Rich Cooper says can be a "game-changer," California-based Metro Ports will next month become the new bulk terminal operator at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor. Cooper predicts the agreement with the 165-year-old company, which was approved Tuesday, could double bulk cargo business at the port within the next five years. The operation will be Metro Ports’ first outside of the East, West and Gulf coasts.
Metro Ports has roots dating back to 1852, when its original parent company, California Stevedore and Ballast Co., was founded during the Gold Rush Era. The company will manage the loading and unloading of shipments for port tenants and outside companies along the port’s East Harbor. It will handle cargoes for the steel, agriculture, construction, energy and manufacturing industries. It currently operates at 27 ports in 10 other states.
Cooper compares the deal with FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) having a hub at Indianapolis International Airport. He says Metro Ports has the "management, operational resources and expertise to work in a competitive environment to meet demanding safety, environmental and quality standards."
The port handled more than 2.5 million tons of cargo last year, completing the highest three-year total in its history. Officials estimate maritime operations at the port generate nearly $4.9 billion in economic activity and support around 39,000 jobs. It recently spent nearly $2.5 million to upgrade infrastructure, with additional investments planned by the Ports of Indiana and Metro Ports to increase the port’s throughput capacity.