Port of Cleveland
Port Commerce

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority (CCCPA) is a public agency that oversees the operations of the Port of Cleveland. The mission of the port authority is to create jobs and economic vitality in Great Cleveland. As an entrepreneurial body, the port authority operates the port and provides funding for construction and expansion projects that create job growth and economic development throughout the region. As a government agency, the port authority leads important sustainable initiatives on the Cuyahoga River ship channel and in the downtown Lake Erie shoreline that will create and promote community assets in the Port of Cleveland. Port authority projects on the Cuyahoga River protect the ship channel to support maritime, commercial, and recreational activities. On Lake Erie, the port authority manages the nature preserve as both a wildlife refuge and an outdoor classroom.

The Port of Cleveland terminals and 12 docks line the Lake Erie shoreline on either side of the Cuyahoga River. Private companies operate the terminals under contract with the Port of Cleveland and hire workers that load and unload ships. The US Coast Guard enforces the Port of Cleveland security plan which is based on US Department of Homeland Security regulations. US Customs and Border Protection personnel board every ship that enters the Port of Cleveland, checking crew members, verifying shipments, and inspecting vessels for dangerous cargoes like weapons or narcotics.

The Port of Cleveland's 2011 Strategic Action Plan focuses on the port's contribution to jobs, the regional economy, and waterfront renewal. To assure the port benefits the community and supports investment in the city's historic lake-and-river district, the port authority works jointly with the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and a variety of stakeholders. The Strategic Action Plan includes three major focuses encompassing seven goals:

  • To create opportunities for growth in jobs and business expansion, the port authority will Grow maritime business in the port through business development and asset management and serve more communities and organizations through the Port of Cleveland's Development Finance Program,
  • To develop civic assets by solving community challenges, the port authority will lead important initiatives for river renewal and infrastructure improvements and manage the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve to connect people and nature on the Port of Cleveland's waterfront, and
  • To manage the Port of Cleveland for maximum economic, environmental, and community benefits, the port authority will Ensure Port of Cleveland financial sustainability; strive for transparent communications, public participation, and accountability; and incorporate sustainable principles in all Port of Cleveland activities.

The port authority for the Port of Cleveland is involved in several river projects to help achieve the Strategic Action Plan goals. These include putting sediments dredged to maintain ship channel width and depth to beneficial use in the community, stabilizing the slow but continuous slide of the Irishtown Bend hillside to safeguard the river banks and increase public access to the riverfront, replace or repair Cuyahoga River ship channel bulkheads, and remove floating debris from the ship channel and lakefront.

To compete in the global economy, the Port of Cleveland operates Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) #40 covering Cuyahoga County and parts of adjacent counties. The FTZ helps companies improve their competitive position and reduce the costs of trade.

The Great Lakes cargo market has long been driven by local industry and bulk commodities that include raw materials and finished and semi-finished products. These include iron ore, limestone, coal, steel, and grain. Using large waterborne shipments of these cargoes help regional industry achieve economies of scale and improves their competitive position. Over time, waterborne shipping has shifted from break bulk carriers to containers shipped through coastal ports and limited the growth of the Great Lakes market. In the decade from 1999 to 2008, Great Lakes tonnage declined about 2% per year. However, Port of Cleveland tonnage has grown by 4.2% each year in the same period, making it one of the highest-performing ports on the Great Lakes.

The US Army Corps of Engineers defines the Cleveland Port District as the public and private facilities along the Cuyahoga River and the Old River Channel. Private facilities serve local industries that include the manufacture of steel, distribution of cement, mining of salt, and storage of liquid bulk. CCPA-leased facilities and lakefront docks are the focus of the Port of Cleveland.

The Port of Cleveland is a major gateway for waterborne trade on the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Seaway system, and it is a vital connection between the global economy and the United States' heartland. The Port of Cleveland manages general and bulk cargo operations along Lake Erie, giving port customers easy access to the multimodal transportation network that reaches a vast consumer market in North America.

In 2011, Port of Cleveland facilities handled a 31% increase in cargo tonnage, reflecting growth in cargoes of steel, iron ore, and oversized project cargo. The Port of Cleveland handled 3.4 million tons of cargo in 2011. The volume of general cargo grew by 16%, and the volume of bulk cargo increased 33%.

In 2010, the Port of Cleveland handled a total of 31.1 million tons of cargo and served a total of 296 vessels. The majority of cargoes were bulk interlake trade (25.8 million tons). Other cargoes included 2.5 million tons of inbound trade at the Cleveland Bulk Terminal, 2.3 million tons of outbound trade at the Cleveland Bulk Terminal, 320.1 thousand tons of steel, 146.3 thousand tons of cement, 45.6 thousand tons of bulk cargo, and 7.4 million tons of general cargo. Vessels calling at the Port of Cleveland in 2010 included 116 inbound vessels at the Cleveland Bulk Terminal and 138 outbound vessels at the Cleveland Bulk Terminal. There were 36 international ships in the Port of Cleveland in 2010. Two dry bulk vessels called at Dock 20, and 30 dry bulk vessels called at the Essrock Terminal.

  • Bulk and breakbulk terminals

The Port of Cleveland Bulk Terminal is operated by Carmeuse Lime & Stone, part of the Pittsburgh-based Global Carmeuse Group that produces lime and limestone products. The Port of Cleveland Bulk Terminal it handles interlake vessels carrying iron ore and limestone. Located on the west mouth of the Cuyahoga River, terminal cargoes travel upriver to the ArcelorMittal steel-producing complex. Limestone cargoes are transported by rail to inland power generation plants.

The general cargo operation in the Port of Cleveland is located east of the Cuyahoga River, and its major cargoes include steel products (coils, slabs, and rods), the demand for which US producers cannot meet. The cargoes are used in manufacturing of products like consumer appliances, auto parts, and batteries. The vast majority of these cargoes are imported to the Port of Cleveland. The Port of Cleveland also handles occasional exports of project cargoes.

The Port of Cleveland's general cargo facilities are operated by Federal Marine Terminals, a subsidiary of Montreal's Fednav Limited. The facilities include 90 acres for storage of general cargo and 8 acres of transit sheds. Mobile and Minotowoc cranes provide crane lift capacity up to 200 tons. On-dock rail services are provided by CSX Rail Transport and Norfolk Southern.

Dry bulk has been the dominant cargo in the Port of Cleveland since 1998, most of it incoming and transshipped iron ore bound for a local steel manufacturing plant. Since 2006, global economic problems and reduced demand for steel products has contributed to declines in the volume of these cargoes in the Port of Cleveland. Increases in iron ore at the Port of Cleveland Bulk Terminal are attributed in large part to the acquisition of an ore-loader in the late 1990s. The Port of Cleveland Bulk Terminal's iron ore loader system has capacity to load 5200 pellets per hour onto river vessels.

The CCCPA docks also handle dry bulk cargoes of cement and aggregates that are used by local customers for construction projects. Dock 20S, operated by Essroc, handles cement, and Dock 20N, operated by Kenmore, handles aggregates and stone.

Essroc, a member of the Italcementi Group of companies, is a major producer of cement in North America. With headquarters in Pennsylvania, Essroc has capacity to produce more than 6.5 million metric tons per year. Essroc facilities are located across North America and are linked by an integrated supply network that connects all Essroc plants, terminals, and markets. Located at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, Essroc operates two silos in the Port of Cleveland where cargo is received and sent by tanker truck.

The Akron-based Kenmore Construction Company leases Port of Cleveland property to receive stone from arriving vessels to be trucked to construction sites and customers in the area.

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