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Port of Duluth-Superior supports nearly 8,000 jobs and generates $1.4 billion in economic activity according to Great Lakes-Seaway study

Mesabi Miner  Entering Port of Duluth
#LSN_Shipping  Mesabi Miner  entering Port of Duluth Photo by Jan Swart

PORT OF DULUTH, MINNESOTA - September 8, 2018  (LSN)  The Port of Duluth-Superior generated $1.4 billion in economic activity and supported 7,881 jobs last year. Handling 35 million short tons of cargo generated over $504 million in total wages, salaries and purchases of goods and services in the regional economy. Cargo movement and vessel activity at the port also generated a total of nearly $240 million in federal/state tax revenues.

The full report for the Port of Duluth-Superior, released today by the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, spotlights local port activity gleaned from a much broader study released last month about the economic impacts of the entire Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway (GLSLS) system conducted by Martin Associates.

 “The Port of Duluth-Superior anchors the westernmost point of this entire 2,340-mile System—a binational waterway that connects the heartland of North America to the global marketplace,” said Duluth Seaway Port Authority Executive Director Deb DeLuca. “As the largest tonnage port on the Great Lakes, we have long known the key role this port plays in the economic vitality of the entire region. Not only does this study validate that message, it also provides relevant data to share with policymakers, investors, business leaders and residents alike illustrating how indispensable our working waterfront is to job growth and economic sustainability in northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin.” 

Some 35 million tons of iron ore, coal, limestone, salt, cement, grain, steel, wind turbines, and heavy machinery move through the Port each year, helping to keep businesses running in adjoining states and in communities along the U.S.-Canadian border. Farmers, miners, steel producers, construction companies, food manufacturers, utility companies and street maintenance departments depend on this System to move raw materials and finished products to market. 

            Employment figures reported in this local study reflect direct jobs generated by moving marine cargo such as longshoremen, terminal employees, crane operators, steamship agents, vessel operators and crews, freight forwarders and stevedores plus railroad workers and truckers. Induced jobs are created when individuals spend their wages locally in grocery stores, restaurants, shopping centers and on home purchases. The study also captured indirect jobs created when marine-related businesses purchase goods and services from office supply companies, maintenance and repair contractors, equipment suppliers and the like.  

 “The value of the Port of Duluth-Superior cannot be overstated,” said Jason Serck, City of Superior economic development, planning and port director. “We do the heavy lifting here in the Twin Ports in terms of tonnage. When you look at the number of jobs in this area related to maritime commerce, it is clear that the working waterfront drives the economies of this entire region.” 

  The nearly 20 privately owned bulk cargo docks in the Port of Duluth-Superior, plus one general cargo terminal operated by Duluth Cargo Connect, altogether account for the 35 million short tons of cargo moved during the 2017 navigation season.

“Add in shipments of iron ore from Two Harbors (18.3M short tons) and Silver Bay (6.4M short tons), and it becomes readily apparent that the western end of the entire Great Lakes-Seaway system is a vital transportation link for the mines in northeastern Minnesota, for the farmers to the west, and for steelmakers and utilities to the east,” said DeLuca. “This marine highway is our lifeline to Canada, Europe, the Baltic, North Africa and beyond.”


NOTE:  The full-length GLSLS study documented that more than 158 million short tons of cargo (143M mt) valued at $15.2 billion were moved on the Great Lakes-Seaway system in 2017, movement that:

  • supported 237,868 jobs
  • created $35 billion (USD) in economic activity
  • generated $14.2 billion (USD) in personal income
  • paid $6.6 billion in federal/state/local taxes

Economic Impact Studies are posted on the Publications page of the Dulut