Port of Cleveland updates strategic plan, approves 2017 budget

The Board of Directors of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority met December 8 to review and approve an updated strategic plan among other business. The new plan builds upon the significant achievements made by the port over the past five years as it implemented a bold new vision founded on strategic maritime and infrastructure investments to position the Port of Cleveland in the global marketplace.

Adopted in September 2011, the previous plan refocused the port on its primary role in job creation, maritime commerce and waterfront renewal. Since then, the port’s strategic initiatives have contributed to significant growth in the economic impact of Northeast Ohio’s maritime sector. A 2016 report prepared by consulting firm Martin Associates found local maritime commerce growth near 30 percent over the past seven years, with over $3.5 billion of total annual economic value supporting over 20,000 jobs, which is an increase of more than 14 percent.

The plan’s goal of competing in new markets also led the port to create the Cleveland-Europe Express (CEE)—the only scheduled container vessel service between the Great Lakes, Europe and points beyond. The CEE has helped make the region more competitive in the global economy, cutting time and expense for local businesses reaching international markets. In addition to spurring commerce, actions since 2011 have resulted in the opening of the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve; the launching of twin workboats that clean trash and debris from Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River; successful coalition building and fundraising to begin stabilizing Irish Town Bend; and safe and sustainable handling of dredged Cuyahoga River sediment as an alternative to dumping into Lake Erie.

“We’ve come a long in way in five years and our new plan will continue and build upon our successes,” said Will Friedman, port President and CEO. “It went by quickly, but when we look back we are very gratified to have made a measurable difference in jobs, cargo and competitiveness while protecting and improving our waterfronts. And we did it in a fiscally responsible fashion, investing more than ever in productive assets while containing operating costs, resulting in a stronger balance sheet than five years ago.”

“The board of directors is fully aligned with staff on the updated strategic plan and overall direction of the port,” said Chris Ronayne, Chair of the port’s board. “What the Port of Cleveland has accomplished in five years has really set the stage for future growth. We are excited for the agency to continue driving the local economy as a global, green port on our Great Lake.”

Maritime Editorial