The Port of Cleveland welcomed on Tuesday the first vessel of the Cleveland-Europe Express cargo service from Antwerp, Belgium, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway. On the vessel’s first round trip voyage, it is carrying cargo moving between five states and seven countries.
The Cleveland-Europe Express is the only regular, scheduled international container and non-containerized cargo service on the Great Lakes. It is the fastest and greenest route between Europe and North America’s heartland, allowing regional companies to ship their goods up to four days faster than using water, rail, and truck routes via the U.S. East Coast ports.
Marc Krantz, chairman of the Port of Cleveland Board of Directors, said that the service is something that the Port of Cleveland’s board members and leadership have been working on since the board developed its strategic plan 2 years ago. “The service takes advantage of the manufacturing strength of Northeast Ohio and the geography of the Cleveland port itself as the first major stop in the U.S on the Seaway system,” Krantz said.
The express ocean freight service comes at a time when cargo coming through the Port is on the increase. In 2013, the Port had its highest annual tonnage level since the 2008 calendar year, said Will Friedman, President & CEO of the Port of Cleveland.
“The express service is most direct route to Europe from America’s heartland. It allows businesses to cut down on transport time, and increase the time their products are available to sell on the market,” Friedman said. “We look forward to seeing the service grow. We estimate the service will carry anywhere from 250,000 to 400,000 tons of cargo per year.”
Bart Peters, manager of The Spliethoff Group’s America Service, said “The arrival of the Fortunagracht is an exciting moment for both Spliethoff and the Port of Cleveland. The goal of the Cleveland-Europe Express is to provide a more efficient method for cargo owners in the heartland of American to trade with Europe, and we believe this first voyage is the first step in establishing a new service that will benefit companies on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson said that Lake Erie has always been Cleveland’s most vital natural asset and an economic lifeline to the world. “The Port of Cleveland remains indispensable to the economic success of Cleveland and the other communities in Cuyahoga County. Maritime activities through Cleveland Harbor support 18,000 jobs and $1.8 billion in economic activity annually,” Jackson said. “Now, the Port of Cleveland has become Midwest’s gateway to trade with Europe.”
Betty Sutton, administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. praised the new service. “The new Cleveland Europe Express Service represents a breakthrough for Great Lakes shipping and is one of the most positive economic development initiatives in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System in many years,” she said. “It is an example of how we can use the economic and natural resources of the Great Lakes region to create new opportunities in powerful and sustainable ways.”
ACO Polymer Products, Inc., a leading trench drainage manufacturer located in Chardon, OH, will be shipping a full size school bus to their corporate headquarters on the Cleveland-Europe Express’ first voyage to Europe. The owner of the family-owned Ahlmann Company, Hans Julius Ahlmann, will be converting the bus for transporting guests and colleagues around the town of Rendsburg, Germany. “The opening of the Port of Cleveland will give ACO the advantage of a faster route to get materials to our facility for manufacturing, which gets the finished goods to our customers quicker. The construction industry is very sensitive to leadtimes, and getting product to a site faster is a game changer,” said Vickie Morenz, Purchasing Manager at ACO Polymer Products. “We plan to use this route as much as possible.”
Tuesday’s vessel also carried wind energy parts, machinery, and smaller cargo in containers. The ship will depart late Tuesday with the school bus, machinery to create roads, and containerized cargo from five states bound for all parts of Europe.
Administrator Sutton honored the Port of Cleveland with the Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award from the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation for year over year growth in international tonnage. It was the Port’s 12th Pacesetter award, and the Port’s fourth in as many years.
The Port also honored the late Arnie de la Porte. Mr. de la Porte, who passed away in the fall of 2013, was relentless in his promotion of global trade from Cleveland via the Saint Lawrence Seaway. The Port named Erieside Avenue, which runs through the Port, in his honor; it will be known as Arnie de la Porte Way.
About The Port of Cleveland The Port of Cleveland is a key to Northeast Ohio’s global competitiveness by providing the quickest, greenest route between North American’s Heartland and Europe. An economic engine for Northeast Ohio, the Port oversees 13-million tons of cargo through the Cleveland Harbor, and with it $1.8 billion in annual economic activity and nearly 18,000 jobs. As a Green Port on a Great Lake, the Port of Cleveland plays a key role in the environmental restoration and revitalization of Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River. For more information, visit the Port website at: www.portofcleveland.com.