Great Lakes Leaders Stress Economic Importance of Seaway System

The Northeast-Midwest Institute and the Great Lakes Seaway Partnership co-hosted a breakfast briefing on the Great Lakes Seaway Navigation System on October 7, 2015. More than 50 people were in attendance to learn about the economic impacts, system investments, and maritime trade opportunities ongoing in the Great Lakes Seaway Navigation System.

  • Representatives Mike Kelly (PA), Dan Benishek (MI), and Sean Duffy (WI) kicked off the briefing with remarks on: the importance of membership in the NEMW Coalition and the Great Lakes Task Force, bipartisan support for repair of the Soo Locks, and the importance of bipartisan advocacy on behalf of the Great Lakes in the face of great financial pressure on the federal government, respectively.
  • Betty Sutton, Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, described the economic and political importance of the Seaway. The Great Lakes account for one fifth of the world’s fresh water and half of the Fortune 500 industrial companies have their headquarters in the Great Lakes region, which connects the world’s two largest trading partners (U.S. and Canada).
  • Dr. John Martin, President of Martin Associates, described the economic importance of maritime commerce on the system and raised several opportunities (such as industrial development and clean energy) and challenges (such as maintenance dredging and ice breaking).
  • Four panelists provided further insight “from the field.” Mark Barker, President of the Interlake Steamship Company, discussed the magnitude and carrying capacity of the domestic fleet and the steps they are taking to reduce emissions. Paul LaMarre, Director of the Port of Monroe, Michigan, emphasized the importance of the 100 Great Lakes ports, which work as a single system. Peter Johnson, Deputy Director of the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers, discussed the organization’s maritime initiative to better position the system and its potential. Jessie Perkins, Director of Government Relations for the American Iron and Steel Institute, talked about the productivity of the system from an industry perspective.
  • Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH) provided inspirational closing remarks, calling for creative, unified, and bi-partisan thinking about the future of the seaway, something she would like to see represented in the federal transportation re-authorization bill.