Port plays role in water, rail and surface transportationWritten by James H. Hartung | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority applauds the efforts of the Meta-Plan consortium in bringing the community together to advance regional economic development. As a key player in this endeavor, we make sure that we position the Toledo area as a premier world transportation center.
We ensure that the Toledo area’s water, rail and surface transportation assets are developed and operated in a cohesive, coordinated and safe manner. Our charge is to enhance the region’s airports, seaport and railways, as well as aid in economic development functions.
Economic development activities, project financing programs, environmental remediation projects and real estate development are examples of additional functions that have shaped the port in this century. While our primary responsibility remains constant — transportation — we also work for optimum business growth, technology development, investment and job retention. Our core competency is responding with immediacy to the business environment and transportation development opportunities of this region.
The year 2007 was solid for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. Our vision remains to have Toledo recognized as a premier international transportation center. We have a diversified world-class maritime cargo hub, a full-service airport and a busy rail transportation center. We are a major center for rail freight and are Ohio’s busiest rail passenger terminal.
I want to outline our services and most recent accomplishments so that the community understands the key role the port plays, with the public and private sectors, in economic development initiatives.
The Port of Toledo is among the most diverse and productive ports on the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway system. Our mile-long docking facility is serviced by both Big Lucas and Little Lucas — two of the largest cranes on any seaport in America. The Port of Toledo’s strategic combination of lift capacity, location and warehouse and open storage capacity provides optimum services for international shipping.
Each year, the port welcomes the first international cargo ship of the season. The captain and crew are honored by a reception and dinner and provided with gifts, which are representative products from our region. We are true international ambassadors for the region.
In 2007, the port opened the Marine Passenger Terminal. Located on the east bank of the Maumee River, beneath the new Veterans Glass City Memorial Skyway Bridge, the terminal will serve charter cruise passenger boats that will travel between Toledo and Detroit, and eventually other destinations, such as the Lake Erie Islands. The terminal itself is available for special events, too.
The port also completed high-bay construction at the Toledo Shipyard, welcomed the U.S. Brig Niagara, provided safe harbor to the S.S. Willis B. Boyer, sponsored the Ohio Conference on Freight, and saw Seaport Director Warren McCrimmon appointed American Association of Port Authorities chairman. As president & CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, I am also serving as the international chairman of the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA). ICHCA is based in London and includes more than 900 transportation professionals from 80 countries.
Serving Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, Toledo Express Airport is served by five airlines: Allegiant Air, American Eagle, Continental Connection, Delta Connection and Northwest Airlink. Toledo Express offers a number of advantages over larger, metropolitan airports — nearby parking, express lines and friendly hassle-free service.
The port recently started the “Fly Local-Buy Local” campaign that provides online information regarding specially priced flights from Toledo Express. Toledo Express ranks among the major air cargo hubs in the country. Bax Global Corporation, with a huge 279,000-square-foot facility, provides time-sensitive air-freight delivery service for the region’s top businesses. In 2007, additional air freight services were added to include a Dubai/Emerates cargo service and BAX Canada/Mexico cargo service.
Up to 100,000 passengers pass through Dr. Martin Luther King Plaza each year, making it Ohio’s busiest passenger rail hub. Also, four major freight railroads move freight through the region. Toledo ranks as one of the top five rail hubs in the United States.
Forty-three percent of U.S. industrial markets and 47 percent of Canadian industrial markets lie within 500 miles of Toledo. Toledo Express Airport and the Port of Toledo’s facilities provide easy, convenient access to major highways, including I-75 and the Ohio Turnpike. Nearly 100 local freight carriers are located in Northwest Ohio.
The port owns several parcels of property throughout Lucas County. Parcels are zoned industrial, commercial and agricultural and are available for sale or lease.
Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ) are also operated by the port.
An FTZ is an area physically located in the United States, but considered outside the U.S. custom territory. Because of the zone’s unique trade designation, goods can be stored, exhibited, repackaged, manipulated or mixed with other foreign and domestic merchandise within the zone — duty free. Duty is only paid when goods are moved out of the zone.
The port authority has developed a national reputation for innovative financing, assisting more than 225 economic development projects representing a total investment of more than $1.3 billion while helping to create and maintain more than 13,000 jobs. Some of the economic development projects the port was involved in last year included: Cedar Point Development Park, the Spartan Warehouse at Toledo Express, terminal renovations and build-out at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza, Packo’s at the Park, two new hangars at Metcalf Field, the Toledo School for the Arts bond issue and the GM Powertrain expansion. The port issued more than $8,000,000 in tax-exempt bonds to finance the purchase of 181 acres of the former Chevron property and the construction of a warehouse at the Port of Toledo. The property and warehouse will be leased to Midwest Terminals.
A natural activity for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority is international outreach. We hosted the mayor from Qinhuangdao, China, and also a delegation from that city, to discuss trade initiatives. Whether we are working with representatives from around the world or people from our community, the goal of the port authority is to expand the economic development opportunities for our region. We are pleased to approach these opportunities, in the spirit of cooperation with other economic development groups, to deliver successful strategies and results.
James H. Hartung is president and CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.