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Published: Friday, 9/2/2005

Toledo's port unlikely to gain from grain diverted from Gulf

Even as some Toledo area firms are grappling with shuttered facilities in the South from Hurricane Katrina, one local expert said the Port of Toledo is not likely to gain business because of the closed ports along the Mississippi River near New Orleans.

William Dodds, general manager of the grain division of The Andersons Inc. in Maumee, said New Orleans' port is a primary export site for soybeans and corn, two major northwest Ohio crops.

But grain merchants expect Louisiana ports will open more quickly than some predictions, possibly in two to four weeks, he said.

But Toledo, despite its local expertise with crops and its being a primary export point for soybeans grown regionally, is unlikely to pick up business from crops diverted from New Orleans, Mr. Dodds said.

Instead, those grain merchants are likely to shift to ports in Texas or on the East Coast before coming to Toledo or elsewhere on the Great Lakes, he said.

Meanwhile, Owens Corning, Toledo's third-largest firm, has yet to assess damage at its two home-siding warehouses in New Orleans and Mobile, Ala., a spokesman said.

The Fortune 500 company is gearing up because it typically experiences demand for its insulation, roofing shingles, and siding after a major storm or hurricane, the spokesman said.

Separately, Pilkington North America, the Toledo-headquartered unit of the British vehicle and building glass maker, said its 10-employee distribution center in Mobile reopened Wednesday. The firm has been unable to get to its 12-employee distribution center in New Orleans.

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