Ports of Indiana executives and big shipping allies in the Canadian Province of Québec are "intensifying" long-running partnerships with the goal of turning up the dial on economic development. The expanded collaboration was announced at a gathering at the Ports of Indiana – Burns Harbor that featured major maritime stakeholders, including Indiana Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann, Québec Minister of International Relations and Francophonie Christine St-Pierre and representatives from Fednav Ltd., which is a top shipper on the Great Lakes and is parent of the port’s general cargo terminal operator, Federal Marine Terminals.
Ports of Indiana Vice President Jody Peacock says Indiana and Québec alone account for 40 percent of total maritime shipping activity the St. Lawrence System. The Great Lakes/St. Lawrence region is a lucrative one. The Ports of Indiana says studies suggest maritime transportation throughout the system is linked to $34 billion and 225,000 jobs.
Québec officials are also boosting the focus on maritime transportation. Minister St-Pierre said "this partnership with Indiana shows that the new Québec Maritime Strategy already has a strong positive impact in our relations with our largest trading partner, the United States. This bodes well for the future, as Québec’s exports to the Midwest have grown by 30% since 2010." The recently-launched strategy includes an emphasis on increasing short-sea shipping, which has also been identified by Indiana officials through initiatives such as July’s Indiana Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Infrastructure, as a key to increasing economic development in the sector.
Peacock says improving connections and shipping routes between Québec and Indiana would "be a tremendous benefit," but in a broader scope, challenges throughout the regional ecosystem exist and need to be discussed. He says barriers involving policy and dredging issues still need to be investigated, with an eye toward growing awareness of this mode of commerce. "We see maritime transportation as the most environmentally-friendly, safest mode of transportation, but there are challenges within the lakes that make it difficult for certain businesses to use it." Peacock tells Inside INdiana Business "it’s challenging to use containers on the lakes, it’s challenging, because of the seasonality and having to close for winter. So there are some of these difficulties that we would like to address and make it more appealing for businesses in the region to benefit from a mode of transportation that has so many benefits over the long-term."
Indiana ports officials say the parties will seek additional partners throughout the region involving:
- industry workshops
- best practices
- applied research based on the needs of the shipping industry
- joint studies involving collaboration between industry, government and academic institutions
For more information on the partnership and the organizations involved, click here.
Ports of Indiana Vice President Jody Peacock says the partnership with the province is a key for the state and regional economy.