On August 6, 2018, I assumed office as Director of Port Milwaukee after spending the last ten years of my career at U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and, in particular, as an employee of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC). The decision to leave the Seaway was difficult; my time working at the SLSDC has been wonderful.
Over the years, I have been fortunate to be mentored by visionary Great Lakes leaders, including former SLSDC Administrator Betty Sutton and current Deputy Administrator Craig Middlebrook. As is clear each quarter in his Seaway Compass column, there is perhaps no one with more expertise nor dedication to the Great Lakes maritime industry than Craig. I, for one, will continue to lean on Craig for his insight, his patient wisdom, and his steadying guidance as Port Milwaukee begins this new chapter in its 150+ year history.
Port Milwaukee is uniquely positioned to serve southeastern Wisconsin and a growing hinterland across North America. The Port has over 470 acres of lakefront property, 20+ tenants, 14 miles of rail, five miles of Seaway-max draft dockwall, and is serviced by two class one railroads. As the recently announced Economic Impact Study revealed, Port Milwaukee generated over $100 million in economic activity last year. Most importantly, the staff at Port Milwaukee are energized, driven, and dedicated to customer service. It is humbling to lead such an exceptional team of professionals.
The contemporary challenges we face at Port Milwaukee are similar to those experienced across the Great Lakes Saint Lawrence Seaway System (GLSLS). Port Milwaukee needs to continually grow its marketing profile within the North American and international maritime industry. New and existing tenants of Port Milwaukee, and their customers, must be situated for exponential business growth. Proactive and deliberate collaboration with federal regulators, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Coast Guard, is critical to ensure that the Port’s operations are safe, secure, and thriving. Protecting the environmental health of the Great Lakes while, simultaneously, sustaining competitive transportation and supply chain solutions through commercial shipping on the Great Lakes is an imperative.
My immediate efforts at the Port will focus on the first challenge: increasing Port Milwaukee’s marketing profile. Utilizing sophisticated approaches to traditional, web-based, and social media marketing is a focus at Port Milwaukee and should be recognized as a shared goal across the Great Lakes. Organizations like the Great Lakes Seaway Partnership, in collaboration with its marketing contractor shark&minnow, as well as the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers are helping Great Lakes ports meet this challenge. Fully optimizing and, perhaps, modernizing many of the trade institutions and organizations we sponsor and partner with is equally important. For one, I am committed to the continued potential of the Hwy H2 O program within the United States, both as a former Hwy H2 O organizer and now as a Port Partner.
I welcome you to join us in Milwaukee soon! I and the Port’s staff stand at the ready with an open invitation of a Port tour and a discussion about the numerous business opportunities available in southeastern Wisconsin through Port Milwaukee. As we all know, my friend and mentor Betty Sutton is fond of referring to the Great Lakes region as the “Opportunity Belt,” the SLSDC’s marketing campaign which I was pleased to represent as the SLSDC’s Great Lakes Regional Representative in Cleveland. I’m optimistic and incredibly motivated by the exciting future ahead at Port Milwaukee or, as I call it, – ahem – the “Opportunity Buckle” of the Great Lakes. BUCKLE UP!
SOURCE: SLSDC, Seaway Compass