Total Employment


Total Business Revenue


Total Taxes Paid



Illinois Relies on Great Lakes-Seaway Shipping

The state of Illinois borders 63 miles of Lake Michigan. This shoreline is dominated by Chicago - the largest city in the Great Lakes Seaway region. More than 16 million tons of inbound and outbound cargoes are handled at the state’s deep-draft ports and terminals.

Great Lakes-Seaway shipping is critical to the dynamic economy of northeastern Illinois. For example, a variety of local manufacturers depend on waterborne transportation for delivery of semi-finished steel products such as coil, wire and slab imported from Europe, South America and Asia. Low-sulfur coal mined in Montana and Wyoming is railed to Chicago where vessels load it for delivery to electric utilities for power generation. Bulk cement and gypsum is brought by ship to Waukegan for use in the manufacture of construction materials. State, county and municipal transportation agencies rely on lake ships to deliver large quantities of salt for winter road deicing.

Economic Impacts (In 2018 USD)

JobsPersonal IncomeBusiness RevenueLocal PurchasesTotal Taxes Paid
6,476$521.9 million$485.7 million$89 million$202.7 million

Investments (In 2013 USD)

Invested in Illinois port, terminal and waterway infrastructure
$57 million

Illinois Port Activity

PortAnnual TonnageMajor Cargoes Handled
Chicago*16,120,000Steel, liquid bulk, grain, stone, cement, salt
Waukegan77,000Gypsum, cement

*includes facilities along the Chicago River, Calumet River, and Lake Calumet
(Source: Waterborne Commerce of the United States, Part III, USACE, CY 2013)

Economic Impacts of Maritime Shipping in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region, Martin Associates (July 2018)
Infrastructure Investment Survey of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway System, Martin Associates (January 2015)


St. Lawrence Seaway Active with International Shipments, Moving Global Supply Chain

American ports in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system record particularly noteworthy increases in project cargo as they ...

EPA Selects Stollenwerk For Federal Great Lakes Advisory Board

DULUTH, Minn. — The United States Environmental Protection Agency announced today its appointees to the Great Lakes Advisory ...

Port Of Duluth-Superior Lands Record 17th Pacesetter Honor

The award is given to domestic Great Lakes ports that show year-over-year tonnage increases for international cargoes.   ...

Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation Announces Port Winners of 2019 Season “Pacesetter Award”

The U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) today announced that five U.S. ports in the Great Lakes ...

Port City Review: These 20 Seaport Communities Help Drive The U.S. Economy

Port of Baltimore, which is one of the 10 busiest in the nation, is No. 1 in the ...

Great Lakes Shipping Fleet Prepares for 2020

More than $97 million in maintenance and modernization is underway on U.S.-flag Lakers idled for winter work at ...