WASHBURN, Wis. (CBS 58) – An annual gathering of the Wisconsin Commercial Ports Association (WCPA) will be held on Lake Superior at the Harbor View Event Center in Washburn on Thursday August 5 and Friday August 6, as representatives work on transportation connectivity, freshwater tourism and infrastructure reinvestment in Wisconsin ports.
The meeting will include presentations from local, state and federal experts focusing on the vitality and resiliency of Wisconsin’s ports.
“Wisconsin’s commercial ports are the heart of our state’s transportation economy,” said Adam Tindall-Schlicht, director of Port Milwaukee and chair of WCPA. “COVID-19 has disrupted supply chains around the world for Wisconsin growers, producers and manufacturers. Wisconsin’s ports are safe, efficient, and have additional capacity as eastern, western, and Gulf Coast ports struggle to keep up with customer demand. “
A 2018 study found that maritime commerce from Wisconsin’s Great Lakes ports generates $ 1.4 billion in economic activity per year. A 2020 National Waterways Foundation analysis found that Wisconsin’s inland activity on the Mississippi River contributes $ 1.1 billion in state and local tax revenue.
“Freshwater travel and recreational activities on Wisconsin’s waterways are paramount to tourism activity statewide,” said Marty Olejniczak, director of community development at the Sturgeon Bay port and vice president of the WCPA. “For the Badger State to continue its efforts to ‘bounce back’ from COVID-19, new direct funding for commercial ports and ports in Wisconsin is needed. Growth in tourism will not happen without commensurate capital investment. “
Wisconsin’s ports have welcomed the state’s recently announced allocations under the American Rescue Plan Act, including Governor Tony Evers’ new tourism subsidy program.
At its 2021 meeting, WCPA will unveil its new international marketing brand as Ports of Wisconsin, including the launch of a new website at https://www.wisconsinports.com, to help promote the commercial and recreational use of Wisconsin ports by customers and travelers around the world.
“Major improvements to the aging marine infrastructure operated by Wisconsin’s commercial ports are needed immediately,” said Paul Braun, city planner for the Port of Manitowoc and WCPA Treasurer. “The Wisconsin Port Assistance Program has been a national best practice example and a vital lifeline for the work of Wisconsin ports. Given the strong demand for statewide economic growth, new and innovative approaches to public and private investment in Wisconsin ports are critical. Additional local and state support is now needed. “