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Economy and Business

Sutton says Cleveland port deal could be key in opening up the seaway
Former Ohio congresswoman says Spliethoff and Cleveland are key players in setting a new Transatlantic schedule that could be key to jobs

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
A Spliethoff vessel
Courtesy of Spliethoff
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In The Region:

When the ice melts in April, the Port of Cleveland plans to start its direct freight service to northern Europe. It’s a first for a Great Lakes port – and the former Ohio congresswoman who now oversees the St. Lawrence Seaway says it’s an important boon to the region.

LISTEN: Sutton on the Cleveland port initiative

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When Betty Sutton was in Congress, her 13th District included a piece of the Lake Erie shoreline stretching east and west of Lorain. When President Obama appointed her the administrator of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation this summer, her territory grew, stretching all the way from the Port of Montreal west to all of Lake Erie.

Sutton acknowledges the shipping channel doesn’t get all the attention showered on the Panama Canal and East and West Coast ports. But she says Cleveland’s monthly or even twice-a-month scheduled service to Europe could change that dramatically.

“You can move goods and supplies from the industrial heartland and to the industrial heartland and the agricultural heartland of North America faster, cheaper and greener. This service in and of itself is supposed to be able to cut off three to four days from what is traditional transit times from East Coast ports to Europe.”

Bypassing the East Coast
The time estimate comes from not having to ship containers and other traditional and nontraditional goods by rail or truck to the East Coast. And Sutton says that should be enough to offset the port’s one big disadvantage – the Lake Erie ice that shuts it down each winter.

Sutton insists she’s not being a homer in getting enthused about the plan. The Dutch shipping concern, Spliethoff Group, is negotiating the deal and Sutton says that’s one reason to take it seriously.

“One of the things that makes this so exciting is the people who are involved. The Port of Cleveland is one of the busiest ports on the Great Lakes. And when you look at the carrier Spielthoff, that is a carrier service that is one of the top carriers in the world.”

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga Port Authority likens the scheduled service to airlines scheduled service and says it could increase cargo shipped through the port by as much as 400,000 tons a year. 

Some shipping news about the announcement: 

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