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Economic Impact Study Extols Importance Of Oswego Port

OSWEGO, NY – Commerce is flowing into Oswego, thanks in large part to the Port of Oswego Authority.

The Great Lakes maritime industry today (Oct. 18) released the results of a year-long study of the economic impacts of the entire Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway navigation system.

The study was commissioned by members of the marine shipping industry, in partnership with U.S. and Canadian government agencies, according to Jonathan Daniels, executive director of the Port of Oswego.

Loading cargo at the Port of Oswego Authority.
Loading cargo at the Port of Oswego Authority.

The study found that maritime commerce supported 227,000 jobs; contributed $14.1 billion in annual personal income, $33.5 billion in business revenue, and $6.4 billion in local purchases; and added $4.6 billion to federal, state/provincial, and local tax revenues, Daniels noted.

The numbers, specific to Oswego and Central New York, will be announced at a press conference early next month.

Things are looking very good here.

They are numbers we knew was out there. Too see it as part of a study like this is very significant day for all of us, not just the port but the entire area,” Daniels said.

North American farmers, steel producers, construction firms, food manufacturers, and power generators depend on the 164 million metric tons of essential raw materials and finished products that are moved annually on the system.

Additionally, marine shipping saves companies approximately $3.6 billion per year in transportation costs compared to the next least-costly land-based alternative.

“For the first time we have a definitive, detailed, peer-reviewed study documenting the enormous contribution which the maritime industry provides to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway region,” Collister Johnson Jr., administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, said in a prepared statement. “The jobs sustained by the maritime industry include not only those located directly on the waterfront – longshoremen, terminal  employees, vessel operators, pilots, and truckers – but also steelworkers, miners, grain farmers, and construction workers, many of whose jobs would disappear but for a vibrant, healthy maritime industry.”

Daniels concurs.

Aluminum is one of the major cargos to be shipped though the Oswego Port.
Aluminum is one of the major goods to be shipped though the Oswego Port.

“The ports that the make up the Great Lakes system play a significant role in providing jobs and economic benefits on both a regional and international level. This study confirms that it is critical for the U.S. and Canadian economies to have a healthy marine transportation industry,” he told Oswego County Today. “At the Port of Oswego, we are proud to be a part of the development continuum that employs longshoremen, support personnel, truckers and others that are vital to the ongoing efficiency of port operations. In addition, the support we provide to more than a dozen companies that utilize our expertise as a part of their logistics chain makes us a valuable partner for their ongoing growth and success.”

“We understand the importance of a healthy maritime industry, especially in Oswego,” he continued. “This is a peer-driven study that shows the benefits of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway maritime system.”

Daniels noted that the findings show in black and white what port officials have known for a long time – the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway is crucial to the US economy.

That will be a big help in fighting proposed new guidelines, aimed at keeping invasive species out of the Great Lakes, which may also keep commerce out of the area, many feel.

Local, state and federal officials banded together last October vowing to fight for the future of the Port of Oswego Authority.

The port could be forced to close if New York moves forward to enforce “unworkable rules governing the treatment of ballast water carried by commercial vessels on the St. Lawrence Seaway,” they said.

The onerous new regulations, which would effectively block maritime commerce from transiting the St. Lawrence Seaway, cutting off access to and from American and Canadian ports on the Great Lakes, were slated to start by Jan. 1, 2012, Daniels said.

However, the DEC has given an extension until 2013.

According to the regulations, commercial vessels operating in New York waters must have ballast water treatment equipment that can meet a water quality standard 100 times greater than that established by the International Maritime Organization, an agency of the United Nations, Daniels explained.

Additionally, vessels constructed after Jan. 1, 2013, must have equipment that meets a standard 1,000 times higher than international standards.

That would be the equivalent of trying to find 10 golf balls in a volume of water equal to 577 Empire State Buildings, according to the Oswego port’s director.

No technology exists anywhere in the world to achieve this goal, he added.

The marine industry has collaborated with the U.S. and Canadian governments to ensure strong protections against the introduction of invasive species.

All vessels entering the Great Lakes region must comply with the most stringent ballast management regulations in the world, according to the administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

Foreign vessels are required to pump out their ballast water while still at sea and flush any empty tanks with ocean water; the salt water destroys many of the invasive species, he added.

Since these rules were put in place in 2006, there have been no new discoveries of aquatic nuisance species entering the Great Lakes via ballast water.

“As the first U.S. port of call on the Great Lakes, the implications of these standards are disastrous. The port directly employs 100 people and has a wider annual economic impact of more than $6 million,” Daniels said last fall. “The Port of Oswego is one of the most productive ports in North America with nearly 150 vessels and more than 1.1 million tons of cargo moving through the port on an annual basis. Thirteen companies depend on the port as part of their domestic and international logistics chain. International clients and cargoes span the globe from Brazil and the Netherlands, to Russia and Indonesia. The thought of closing the port because our home state issued these regulations is inconceivable.”

The Oswego port is located less than 300 miles from 60 million people.

“That’s a pretty decent consumer base,” Daniels said. “We’ve proven our worth as a business center. The importance of the facility today cannot be over-stated.”

If the regulations go into affect, nearly 100 direct jobs with a payroll in excess of $6 million annually and other in-direct jobs could be lost in this area, Daniels said.

The ripple affect will be felt by ports in Canada, Mid-West farmers, steel producers in Ohio and tourism and many others, he said, adding, “The impact will be felt well into the future.”

Links to the Executive Summary and the full report can be found on the Home Page of the Marine Delivers website: www.marinedelivers.com