Encouraging stats welcome new shipping season to Port of Indiana
Post-Tribune staff report April 9, 2013 10:14PM
Updated: May 11, 2013 6:09AM
The shipping season at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor has started.
The season got off to an early start despite later-than-normal cold weather, Jody Peacock, spokesman for the Ports of Indiana, said. The first shipment, 12,860 tons of liquid fertilizer from the Baltic Sea that will go to area farms, arrived last week. The second shipment, 5,100 tons of steel coils, arrived Tuesday.
The port has seen record growth recently, although last year did not quite hit the record levels of 2011. Last year was still 7 percent more than the five-year average for the port, Peacock said, which shows it’s still doing well.
Economic activity at the port has gone so well that it’s nearing capacity, which led state Sen. Ed Charbonneau to make a study for a new port in Gary a part of his Senate Bill 585, an overall economic development bill for that area.
“The whole reason for doing the study is basically that they’re out of space (at the port),” Charbonneau said. “It’s a good thing; it means there’s economic development going on.”
Although the port might not run out of space in the immediate future, he said, officials need to plan for more space now so that the port can continue to grow and bring in more jobs.
“At some point, they’re going to have to say we can’t grow anymore and that’s not a good position to be in,” Charbonneau said.
Whether the port will see more shipping growth this season depends on the industries that use the port the most such as manufacturing, automotive and appliances.
“I think we’re cautiously optimistic for this season,” Peacock said. “... As they continue to rebound, we’re going to see growth and shipments in the port.”
One positive sign, Peacock said, is the fact that four of the major ship companies in the Great Lakes region are building 30 new ships specialized for the Great Lakes during the next four years.
“We’re very excited to see the tremendous investment that the shipping lines are making in Great Lakes vessels,” he said.
At least some of the new vessels will feature increased efficiency and about 20 percent reductions in emissions.