Express freight service gives Cleveland region global reach
Right now, on the Saint Lawrence Seaway, the Dutch-owned vessel Fortunagracht is making its way toward Antwerp, Belgium, laden with cargo for export from businesses throughout Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, and other Midwest states.
The Fortunagracht is the linchpin of the new Cleveland-Europe Express service, a two-year agreement between the Port of Cleveland and the Spliethoff Group, the Netherlands' largest ship-owner. The agreement guarantees direct monthly service between Cleveland and Antwerp, providing Midwest manufacturers a better deal than sending their goods by truck or rail to an East Coast port for eventual shipment across the Atlantic.
No other region in the world possesses the economic and natural assets of the Great Lakes and Seaway basin and the Port of Cleveland has done significant work to raise awareness of our Great Lakes ports system to capture some of the freight business usually associated with larger vessels that can't navigate the Seaway or reach Cleveland. The new service is a perfect example of how we can use these resources to create opportunities in powerful and sustainable ways.
This accomplishment is the culmination of a determined effort by the port to explore new opportunities to grow business and, in turn, expand the use of the Great Lakes Seaway System. It's a real breakthrough--one of the most promising economic development initiatives in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System in many years.
As the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way to transport goods, ships not only help businesses export competitively, but also save consumers money on the products they buy, and in an environmentally sustainable way.
The ability to balance economic and environmental objectives is what makes this new liner service to Cleveland such exciting news.
The Great Lakes region is the manufacturing and industrial base of North America, and an emerging energy production center. It provides a vibrant and dynamic environment so ripe for economic growth that I call it the “Opportunity Belt," and the new CEE Way service is an innovative way to seize a valuable opportunity. We can all be very proud of this moment and the beginning of even more big things to come.
Betty Sutton is Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.