Superior, WI (Northland's NewsCenter) --- This week has been dedicated to bringing attention to the importance of one of the biggest economic drivers in the Northland.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has declared this Wisconsin Ports Week.
"Shipping and the commodities, the freight commodities do drive the Twin Ports," Fred Shusterich, President of the Superior Midwest Energy Terminal said.
Last year, Midwest Energy Resources began a three year project, exporting 1.7 million tons of coal to the Netherlands.
He says Governor Walker's proclamation is a sign the industry is growing.
"It just re–affirms in our minds the importance of our business," Shusterich said. "We like to maintain our business at a lower key, but it reaffirms the importance of volumes, break bulk and bulk volumes in the Twin Ports."
The Twin Ports of Duluth and Superior import and export agricultural products, coal, iron ore, wood pulp, cement and road salt, among other commodities.
"Not only the Superior–Ports but the 29 other ports that exist within the Wisconsin system," Jason Serck, Planning & Port Director in Superior said.
Together these Wisconsin ports handle more than 40 million tons of international and domestic cargo valued at more than $8 billion.
"Without the port here, not only would we have a different scale, but we'd also have a heck of a lot more trucks and rails and things of that nature to deal with, not only on the roads, but within the rail systems," Serck said.
As an indication of the economic driving force of the ports, Superior has just received a $4.7 million grant from Wisconsin to stabilize the General Mills Dock.
"It shows not only that they are doing well economically, but it shows that they want to be here long term," Serck said. "Those are some really great indicators when we can have that kind of investment within our port."
A 2011 report on the Economic Impacts of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System shows more than 11,500 jobs in Minnesota and Wisconsin were supported by the Cargo moving through the Twin Ports.
In addition, the town of Bell in Bayfield County, received an emergency state grant to repair storm damage to Cornucopia Harbor, indicating the importance of keeping Wisconsin's ports afloat.