Nearly two years after starting out as a pilot program, the Cleveland-Europe Express plans to add Asia to its route.
The two ships that travel between Cleveland and Antwerp, Belgium, will also stop in India. It’s not clear yet what Northeast Ohio goods will be traveling to Asia. Jade Davis with the Port of Cleveland says he’s received inquiries from regional companies but declined to name the businesses.
“Manufacturers, light industrial, and heavy…the really ‘Cleveland manufacturing’ stuff is very interested in seeing how they can get goods in and out of the country. And it’s not just goods, but it’s also finished products that they utilize for their products. “Right now we’re operating and investing as if this is going to be a permanent service to the port. We’re really looking at infrastructure investment, at some of the docks, and building a new warehouse for container trans-loading. And also, we have two new cranes that are coming in, that’ll be delivered at big of shipping season, that will handle just purely our container traffic. So we’re making investments to make sure that we can have an efficient streamlined service, and have a permanent service to offer.” In its first year, the Port of Cleveland lost nearly $3 million on the Cleveland-to-Antwerp route and interest seemed tepid among Ohio manufacturers. But the following year, the shipping line’s investment partner, the Spliethoff Group, took over more of the costs and logistical operations, and added a second ship. Davis says Spliethoff and its Bangalore partner will cover the costs of the India venture. In 2014, the Port invested $5 million in the Cleveland-Europe Express. This coming year, Davis figures the Port will spend less than half of that.