Total Employment


Total Business Revenue


Total Taxes Paid



Wisconsin Relies on Great Lakes-Seaway Shipping

The state of Wisconsin borders 1,017 miles of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Its seven deep-draft commercial ports handle more than 42 million tons of inbound and outbound cargo annually.

Great Lakes-Seaway shipping is critical to the state’s manufacturing, energy and agricultural sectors. For example, farm products from the upper Midwest are loaded on vessels in Superior destined for export markets. Mining equipment manufactured in Wisconsin is moved to customers in Canada, Russia and South Africa from the Port of Milwaukee. Low-sulfur coal mined in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado is railed to Superior where vessels load it for delivery to electric utilities in the lower Lakes. Similarly, iron ore from nearby Minnesota fills gigantic lake vessels in Superior destined for steel mills in Gary, Detroit, and Cleveland. Raw materials such as sand, gravel, and salt each move through Wisconsin ports - each playing an important role in the state's economy.

Wisconsin is also home to three large shipyards that collectively have more than 2,200 employees and an annual payroll that tops $107 million. The yards build and maintain both commercial and military vessels.

* includes the bi-state ports of Duluth/Superior and Marinette/Menominee

Economic Impacts (In 2018 USD)

JobsPersonal IncomeBusiness RevenueLocal PurchasesTotal Taxes Paid
7,484$480 million$1.185 billion$210 million$241 million

Investments (In 2013 USD)

Invested in Wisconsin port, terminal and waterway infrastructure
$102 million

Wisconsin Port Activity

PortAnnual TonnageMajor Cargoes Handled
Green Bay2,156,000coal, gasoline, kerosene, pulp, limestone, cement, salt
Manitowoc128,000cement, slag
Marinette/Menominee185,000salt, pig iron
Milwaukee2,301,000asphalt, salt, slag, cement, iron & steel, wheat, corn, soybeans
Superior/Duluth35,102,000iron ore, coal, limestone, wheat, soybeans, salt, cement, sand/gravel, machinery


  • The Economic Impacts of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway Navigation System, 2011 – Martin Associates
  • The Economic Impacts of Maritime Shipping in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region, 2017 – Martin Associates
  • Infrastructure Investment Survey of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway System, 2015 – Martin Associates
  • Waterborne Commerce of the United States, Part III, 2013 – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Waterborne Commerce of the United States, 2018 – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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