Shipping through the Port of Toledo generates nearly 7,000 jobs in Ohio with a combined payroll exceeding $558 million, according to a study jointly released Wednesday by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.
The overall economic impact of Toledo's port exceeds $1 billion once business revenue and purchases by individuals and businesses dependent on the seaport are factored in, said the report, which was announced during a news conference Wednesday afternoon at the port authority's general cargo docks near the Maumee River's mouth.
Paul Toth, the port authority's president, said during a news conference that the Toledo analysis was performed by Martin Associates of Lancaster, Pa., as part of a broader study of the St. Lawrence Seaway System's economic impact.
"There was a lot of good news out of this study," Mr. Toth said. "It really validates what we do every day."
Besides providing jobs to ship crews and dock workers, the Toledo port's cargo operations provide direct employment to truckers, railroaders, steamship agents, and others in the transportation field, and those workers' spending in turn benefits those whose goods and services they consume, the report said.
"It's very far-reaching. It goes beyond Toledo and northwest Ohio," Mr. Toth said of the port's economic impact.
At 2,300 miles, the St. Lawrence River, Great Lakes, and connecting rivers represent the longest inland waterway in the world, and "Toledo is one of the most important ports on the entire system," said Collister "Terry" Johnson, administrator of the federal St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.
Mr. Johnson noted in particular the port authority's recent $25 million modernization program that has included buying -- using state and federal grants -- two modern mobile cranes, a materials handler, and a dry-bulk conveyor. The new machines are more fuel efficient and of higher capacity than the equipment they replaced. "They've made big investments, and it's going to pay off," he said.
"When we do this study again 10 years from now, the numbers are going to be even more impressive," Mr. Toth predicted.
Dick Gabel, a port authority director and vice president of the International Longshoremen's Association, said Toledo's port modernization already has brought in new cargo that has kept dock workers on the job. "The opportunity is here to get more business in, and more business means more work," Mr. Gabel said.
The $500,000 study was funded jointly by the Seaway corporation, its Canadian government counterpart, and private-sector sponsors. Mr. Toth said the Toledo port authority contributed $5,000.
A year in the making, the study involved interviews with marine terminal operators, port tenants, railroads, and others with port-related interests in each of 32 ports in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence valley -- 16 in Canada and 16 in the United States.
During the news conference, port officials also announced the recent purchase of two locomotives by Midwest Terminals of Toledo, the local port operator, for rail operations at the port.
Midwest Terminals has significantly hiked the amount of cargo transferred between ships and trains at the general cargo docks since taking over as operator of the general cargo docks, and will also operate the Ironville Dock, which features a rail loop suitable for loading or unloading 100-car trains of grain, stone, and other bulk material. Ironville Dock is expected to begin operations next year.
-- David Patch