PORTAGE, Indiana. Québec Minister of International Relations and Francophonie Christine St-Pierre and Indiana Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann, announced on September 29 that the Province of Québec and the State of Indiana will launch a new partnership to intensify their collaboration in Great Lakes/St. Lawrence System shipping and maritime economic development.
Recent studies have shown that for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region, maritime transportation accounts for $34 billion in annual economic returns and more than 225,000 jobs.
Québec and Indiana have identified short-sea shipping as a factor of regional economic development that would benefit from greater regional collaboration. They are launching a joint initiative to study opportunities for enhancing shipping routes between the two jurisdictions. Short-sea shipping is especially important because it facilitates the delivery of supplies along trade routes that have rail and highway capacity constraints and infrastructure challenges
This collaboration is a direct result of the work of the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers' Regional Maritime Initiative, the unveiling of the Québec Maritime Strategy in July 2015 and the Indiana Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Infrastructure.
"Indiana is a significant economic partner of Québec in the Midwest, especially with respect to maritime transportation," stated Minister St-Pierre. "This partnership with Indiana shows that the new Québec Maritime Strategy already has a strong positive impact in our relations with our largest trading partner, the United States. This bodes well for the future, as Québec's exports to the Midwest have grown by 30% since 2010."
In Québec, under the leadership of the Marine Industry Forum, the Québec Shortsea Shipping Round Table is fully engaged in the promotion and the development of short-sea shipping, acting as a hub of short sea related information and expertise. Short-sea shipping currently accounts for 20% of shipping traffic in St. Lawrence River ports and its development is one of the key priorities of the Québec Maritime Strategy.
"The province of Québec and the state of Indiana are connected by more than just water," said Lt. Governor Ellspermann. "We share strong manufacturing sectors, robust multimodal transportation systems, and a heavy reliance on Great Lakes shipping. As two of the leading maritime economies on the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway, Québec and Indiana represent a large part of the business activity generated by shipping in this region."
Indiana currently handles nearly 30 million tons of cargo per year on short-sea shipping movements across the Great Lakes, predominantly consisting of iron ore for the steel mills located in Northwest Indiana. The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, which is one of the leading steel ports on the Great Lakes, also shares a strong business partnership with Montreal-based Fednav Limited, a leading Great Lakes shipping line. Fednav provides regular ocean service to the Port of Indiana and is the parent company for the port's general cargo terminal operator, Federal Marine Terminals, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
In addition to direct economic benefits, short-sea shipping has significant environmental advantages. It helps improve highway safety and reduce other social and environmental costs such as highway congestion, maintenance costs and greenhouse gas emissions compared to other modes of transportation.
Québec and Indiana will work together to increase this bilateral and multilateral collaboration on short-sea shipping, and will invite other partners from the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence economic region to join them. Areas of collaboration could include industry workshops, exchange of best practices, applied research based on the needs of the shipping industry, as well as joint studies involving collaboration between industry, government and academic institutions. (Photo: Ports of Indiana)