Local port boss touts economic importance, hunger for growth
Wednesday, September 4, 2019
The Windsor Star/Dave Battagello
Windsor’s 14 shipping port terminals have largely remained a secret economic success story — but the word is now out.
At a Wednesday press conference touting the port’s recent success, Windsor Port Authority CEO Steve Salmons said the operation supports nearly 2,300 direct and indirect jobs across Windsor and Essex County.
Employment at local port terminals annually generate $125 million in payroll and $271 million in economic activity. Speaking at a publicity event at Sterling Fuels, Salmons said he hopes the business will grow even further in coming years on local waterways.
“Too many of us in Windsor-Essex don’t know what the port does and what it means to us,” he said. “For most people, it’s a series of gravel piles and oil tanks down by the water. It’s out of sight and mind.
“But this is a story that needs to be told. Every day 1,000 people come to work on the grounds of Windsor’s ports with another 1,300 going to work elsewhere because of our ports. Our ports are a major contributor to economic activity in Windsor.”
With construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge underway, he said it is the perfect time to further capitalize on the city’s port system and create an even greater trade and logistics hub than currently exists.
“We have room to grow within our existing capacity and we plan to,” Salmons said. “We are at the centre of an international link between the midwest and through Ontario and Quebec. We will seek out investors who maybe haven’t thought of us — and hopefully now they will.
“We have an advantage and we are going to grow it.”
The city’s port authority is one of 17 across Canada. It is the 10th busiest in the nation and ranks third on the Great Lakes by receiving more than 600 ships annually which deliver or pick up some five million tonnes of aggregate, salt, steel and grain.
A couple dozen representatives from the local port terminals and business leaders were on hand at Wednesday’s event to help highlight the local port authority’s success.
Stephen Mackenzie, CEO of the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation, cited how the local shipping ports are vital in helping attract economic investment to the region.
“Any practitioner can tell you how important it is to have a national port in your city,” he said. “Our region would not have the success we enjoy without the marine presence.
“The port is an important tool in our tool box to attract investment.”
The head of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce also cited the important role local shipping ports play in the area economy.
“We are very fortunate to have the Port of Windsor here,” said chamber CEO Rakesh Naidu. “For a region known for its exports, it is very important to have this port infrastructure. It’s a huge asset.”