Students study Green Bay Port expansion possibility

GREEN BAY — Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay now have a green light to investigate whether renewed demand for an old service — 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.

The University announced Dec. 2 that in collaboration with the Port of Green Bay it has received a $55,000 research grant from the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute for the “The Great Lakes Marine Container Service Feasibility Study.”

Faculty members and student research assistants will use surveys, background analysis and confidential interviews with potential shippers to:

• Identify products or commodities that may be suited to containerized transport via Great Lakes shipping, including those which have previously moved via highway and rail combination to increasingly congested Atlantic ports;

•Analyze the viability of connecting Great Lakes container operations via the St. Lawrence Seaway to high-capacity, ocean-going vessels at Montreal and Halifax, Nova Scotia;

• Identify shipper requirements and interest in shifting from land-based to marine service linking markets on the Great Lakes; and, ultimately

• Determine whether there would be sufficient volume to support a common “intermodal” terminal to be created at the Port of Green Bay and, if so, conduct an analysis of potential terminal size, location, requirements and features.

Local interest in a possible intermodal terminal has risen along with global trade, fuel-cost uncertainties, and appreciation of the importance of sustainable business practices.

Container shipping – using standardized cargo boxes that can be transferred between ship, truck and train – is common internationally but has been rare on the Great Lakes since World War II, when rail and, later, highway transport grew in favor.

Like all Great Lakes ports, Green Bay now handles mostly bulk commodities. At the 13 private shipping terminals along the lower Fox River, freighters carrying coal, limestone, cement and salt (forest products and tallow are among the other products) account for most of the 200 visiting ships and about 2.3 million metric tons of cargo per year.

Dean Haen, director for the Port of Green Bay, says the Port contributes about $76 million annually to the regional economy, serving businesses from Sheboygan to Wausau to the Upper Peninsula. He observes that a number of industries – paper, agriculture and manufacturing among them – have competitive advantages that would only be enhanced by improved global access.

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

The UW-Green Bay study will look at Green Bay as a single node in the network, but the research could also be a resource for shippers, freight planners, ports and public entities elsewhere. Oswego, N.Y., located on Lake Ontario, is already proceeding with plans for a container port. Another new port is being built in Nova Scotia at the entrance to the Seaway, along the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

For a full news release click here.


The Great Lakes Marine Container Service Feasibility Study
(horn sounds)

Fritz Erickson
Dean of the College of Professional and Graduate Studies

In collaboration with the port of Green Bay, UW-Green Bay has accepted a $55,000 grant from the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute, for a research project titled “The Great Lakes Marine Container Service Feasibility Study: Connecting Green Bay to Global Container Service Providers Serving Ports on the St. Lawrence Seaway.”

Don McCartney
Senior Lecturer, Business Administration

The Grant is from the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute. They are an institute that is designed to look at ports and helping ports be sustainable. Our proposal was to look at the Port of Green Bay to see whether we can convert it from a bulk port to an intermodal containerized port.

The UW-Green Bay students, as a part of the study, have conducted some background research already. They’ve looked at prior studies being done to see what parts they should replicate. They’ve gone out and done various types of article searches on this idea, feasibility, what things we should look at. They will also be doing transportation analysis, looking at who’s shipping how much goods, how far they’re shipping it and who’s doing the shipping. They’ll be developing surveys and interviewing people that both ship goods and people that are having their goods shipped.

Ryan Vandeyacht
Senior, Business Administration

The study itself is a great networking opportunity. The students working with these businesses is going to open up a lot of, hopefully, a lot of new internship opportunities and form a good rapport for the UWGB campus, itself, with the local businesses we’ll be working with. And, in turn, it will give future opportunities for UWGB students.

Prof. Ray Hutchison
Urban and Regional Studies

We have a team of students who will be working on the project and will be doing the basic research, as well as writing some of the, at least, preliminary versions of the reports for us. This is a wonderful opportunity actually, I think, for students to link up with professionals in the field, in their future fields of work. And it’s a good opportunity for the University, as well, to link with the community in doing something that should benefit all of us.

Don McCartney
The community support since the announcement of the grant has been really overwhelming. I have received calls and e-mails from Schneider International, Feeco International, Schreiber Foods. These are all willing (companies) to provide expertise and time to help with the study itself. It shows great support from the community.

This is one of the exciting things about having our students involved with companies like this.

Dean Haen
Green Bay Port Manager

Well, Green Bay is the grant recipient and will be the lead on this project. They’re the focus of this study. Their expertise and researchers will be critical to the success of this study.

Containerized traffic is the growth of the future, and that’s because you can send small amounts of goods from your company, bundle it up with 1,000 other companies and send a shipload across the ocean. So you’re able to move your small amount of goods with everybody else’s. Otherwise, you’d have to save up a whole shipload of product, and that just isn’t feasible in the business conditions. You need to make some money on those goods when they’re produced.

Ray Hutchison
The Great Lakes is obviously a good link here to getting shipments out to the rest of the world. And, at this point, things have to be shipped by rail to the port facilities on the coast in order to ship out. We’d be able to do it from here.

Photos courtesy of the Port of Green Bay

You may also like...