Alumni rising: Haen ’91, puts Port on growth course

Dean HaenDean Haen, UW-Green Bay Class of 1991, is in the news quite often these days.

Haen is port manager for the Port of Green Bay. With high fuel prices, increasing global trade, and new appreciation for sustainable business practices, Great Lakes shipping is generating renewed excitement as a viable alternative.

“Many people don’t realize what a resource we have with this port,” Haen says, “and that the growth potential is so strong.”

The current economic impact is about $75 million annually, with about 200 visiting freighters carrying 2.3 million metric tons of cargo per year. Green Bay’s 13 private shipping terminals handle bulk commodities including coal, limestone, cement, salt and forest products.

Haen graduated with double majors, in Environmental Science and Environmental Planning. He started working with Brown County while still a student at UW-Green Bay, volunteering as a recycling coordinator. He was later hired as a landfill manager. He became port manager in 1999.

He recalls having good classes, and professors, at UW-Green Bay: “I had many classes with (Prof.) Bill Niedzwiedz and I remember taking at least one course, sociology, it might have been, with (Prof.) Ray Hutchison.”

Hutchison is today chair of the Urban and Regional Studies academic unit and a collaborator with Haen on a campus/community research project involving the Port. The project is a feasibility study examining whether the re-emergence of container shipping from Great Lakes ports has the potential to usher in a fresh era of freight transportation and job growth for the Green Bay area.

Container shipping – using standardized cargo boxes that can be transferred from ship to truck or train – is common internationally but rare on the Great Lakes. It was common until about World War II, when rail and, later, highway transport began handling more consumer freight. Today, bulk commodities account for nearly all lake-going cargo.

Hutchison and Don McCartney, senior lecturer in marketing in Business Administration, are the two faculty researchers. They will be helped by several student research assistants in surveying potential shippers and conducting a feasibility analysis of a possible container port in Green Bay.

For more on the Port of Green Bay project, see the Dec. 2 news release.