Port of Toledo leaders looking into the feasibility of handling container cargo

The port is seeing double-digit increases in cargo this year.
Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Container ships continue to be held up on the West Coast as the global supply chain crisis continues. Many of the vessels are having to anchor offshore, unable to get into port for weeks at a time.

According to Joe Cappel, the Vice President of Business Development for the Port of Toledo, any issues elsewhere haven’t affected business at the port.

“We are the largest landmass port on the Great Lakes, and also one of the most cargo diverse ports on the Great Lakes,” Cappel said.

And this has been a very good year for the Port of Toledo.

“The 2021 season is one of the best we’ve had in recent years,” he said. “Our cargo tonnage is up over 26% over 2020, which was also a very good year for the port.”

A diverse portfolio has been a big part of Toledo’s ongoing success. That portfolio includes things like grain, iron ore, coal, aluminum, and salt. But as delays continue for container ships on the West Coast, some are asking about the possibility of adding that kind of cargo to the Port of Toledo’s roster.

“It’s really a business case analysis that needs to be done and we are in the process of that,” says Cappel. “We are working with our terminal operator to see if it even makes sense for Toledo.”

Cappel says ports specialize in certain cargo for a reason. “Some other Great Lakes ports see this as an opportunity for them, but every port is different in terms of cargo they handle and what their specialties are.”

According to Cappel, Cleveland is the only American port on the Great Lakes that handles container cargo right now.

“Could it be an opportunity for Toledo and the Great Lakes?” asks Cappel. “Moving containers is not something we typically do but it could be an opportunity in the future. But if the Port of Toledo had an ability to do this, it is not likely to impact the West Coast situation.”

In the meantime, the focus will continue to be moving products in and out of Toledo that provides jobs and economic stability for the region.

“The last time we had a study done, there were well over 7,000 jobs tied to the port and a $1 billion dollar annual economic impact,” says Cappel. “That was before the Cleveland Cliffs project and other improvements we’ve been making, so I am excited to see the new numbers.”

Cappel adds that in order for the Port of Toledo to be able to consider handling cargo containers, there would have to be a multi-million dollar investment to create a specific space at the port. There would have to be enough interest from shippers and local importers to use the service. There would also need to be a U.S. Customs facility.

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