Throughout the world, seaports are known as “engines of job creation.” Bustling seaports are magnets for distribution centers, manufacturing centers, transportation companies, and a host of other value-added activities. Developing new waterborne commerce between the Netherlands and ports such as Detroit, Toledo, and Cleveland has the potential to create a significant number of jobs. The Saint Lawrence Seaway is the minimum mileage route between the Great Lakes and Europe.

The Consulate General of the Netherlands in Chicago funded a recently completed one to one and a half year study that identifies commercial opportunities to move cargos between the Netherlands and the Great Lakes via the Saint Lawrence Seaway. The Dutch study establishes that this minimum mileage route is also the most cost-effective route for several cargos, which are currently routed through East Coast ports. Utilizing the Seaway can reduce costs for shippers and create jobs for companies located in the Great Lakes region.

The conference presents the results of the study to the principal Great Lakes stakeholders, including shippers who currently import/export between Ohio and Europe through East Coast ports. The goal is to enlist support in activating the flow of business.

The conference will address four main topics: 

  1. Making the Case for Netherlands/Great Lakes Commerce (the results of the Dutch study).
  2. Commercial Opportunities (existing and potential all-water shippers and carriers).
  3. Great Lakes/Seaway System and its Fitness for Use (seasonality, invasive species, pilotage, small ships, cranes, ports, etc.).
  4. Government Perspective (U.S., Canadian, and Dutch) and Job Creation.

These four topics establish the Saint Lawrence route as the most cost-effective route to the Netherlands (and other ports in Europe) for several cargos, a significant source of new jobs in the depressed Midwest. Further, water transport is, and always has been, the most fuel efficient and “greenest” mode of transportation.