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WCPA hold virtual annual gathering

(Posted on 17/08/20)

On Thursday, 13 August, the annual gathering of the Wisconsin Commercial Ports Association (WCPA) took place via video-teleconference. The meeting included presentations from local, state, and federal experts and policymakers, including agencies that support the growth and development of Wisconsin’s commercial ports by addressing operational challenges and identifying catalytic infrastructure funding. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, and U.S. Congressman Mike Gallagher are forecasted to attend.

“Wisconsin’s commercial ports provide an economic foundation for our State,” said Adam Tindall-Schlicht, Director of Port Milwaukee and President of the WCPA. “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge Wisconsin’s manufacturers, growers and producers. Our ports have remained resilient and open for business, providing these essential businesses with safe and efficient routes to domestic and world markets.”

An August 2018 study found that maritime commerce from Wisconsin’s Great Lakes ports generates $1.4 billion in economic activity annually, and a recent National Waterways Foundation analysis found that Wisconsin’s inland activity on the Mississippi River contributes to $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenue.

“Freshwater travel and coastal access is integral to Wisconsin’s tourism identity,” said Marty Olejniczak, Community Development Director at the Port of Sturgeon Bay and Vice-President of the WCPA. “As more and more people choose Wisconsin’s port cities and towns for outdoor excursion and international cruising, port-supported infrastructure for commercial and recreational use is paramount. Ongoing reinvestment from State and Federal programs is necessary to sustain this progress.”

In 2020, Governor Tony Evers awarded $40.5 million in Wisconsin Department of Transportation Harbor Assistance Program (HAP) grants.  WCPA has long advocated for increased HAP funding and availability statewide. The U.S. Department of Transportation implemented a new grant, the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP), in 2020. Port Milwaukee was the first PIDP awardee in the State; an earlier announcement from U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin this year confirmed an award of $15.8 million for Milwaukee’s new agricultural export facility. The WCPA supports federal expansion of the PIDP nationally in effort to bring increased federal funds to Wisconsin.

“The last five years have been the wettest ever recorded in Wisconsin,” said Dean Haen, Director of the Port of Green Bay and outgoing president of the WCPA. “High-water levels on the Great Lakes and historic saturation are impacting waterfront infrastructure throughout the State. Wisconsin’s ports and harbors will continue to address capital asset damage, coastal erosion and environmental resiliency together through advocacy, collaboration and public-private partnerships in the WCPA.”

The Wisconsin Commercial Ports Association (WCPA) was created in 2001 by the municipal commercial ports of Wisconsin. The purpose of the WCPA is to provide a medium for the exchange of ideas, methods, information and experiences as they relate to port management; promote and encourage legislation and regulation on all levels for the good of Wisconsin ports and shipping; promote and encourage the public’s understanding of the value of shipping and the port to the community; and cooperate with all governmental agencies and industry organizations having a primary goal of growing waterborne transportation in Wisconsin.

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