Gateway to the World. This is Cleveland.

Cleveland-Europe ExpressCleveland is riding a wave of positive momentum. Whether it’s Gay Games 9, the Republican National Convention, or LeBron James’ homecoming, the common theme is we are a destination of choice. The Port of Cleveland is playing our part in this story of resurgence by making the region more attractive for global commerce through strategic investments.

That’s why we launched the Cleveland-Europe Express in April—the only non-stop, regularly scheduled international shipping service on the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway System. That’s why we invested in a rail infrastructure that links these ships to the national rail network. And that’s why we are fully committed to establishing Cleveland as the Great Lakes’ leader in maritime, logistics, and commerce.

There is clear and significant evidence that our efforts are working. The Cleveland-Europe Express (see video) is connecting goods moved through our Port to and from Europe, Russia, China, and many more intercontinental destinations. We’re seeing cargo shipped through Cleveland that normally bypasses us on it’s way to the eastern seaboard, the gulf coast, or other locales. In the world of shipping and logistics, we call this “discretionary cargo” – goods that can be routed through multiple ports competing against one another on cost, transit time, and other key considerations to the party paying the freight.

When drafting a strategic plan in 2011, it was clear that the Port of Cleveland was not competitive for discretionary cargo. Now, with our recent startup of the Cleveland-Europe Express and other investments, we are positioned to be the port of choice in the Midwest and Great Lakes.

We are competing for a much broader segment of the market than we have in decades, and the numbers show the results. Thus far in 2014, tonnage shipped through the Port is up 28% and number of ships at our docks is up 75%. We haven’t declared victory yet – we realize this is a process and the shipping market remains fiercely competitive – but the early returns are promising and suggest that with continued effort and strategic thinking, Cleveland can again be a hub for commerce in North America’s Heartland.

As Cleveland continues to attract national and global attention and investment, the Port of Cleveland is committed to doing its part to make our region more competitive, connecting it to new markets, and acting as a key asset when attracting and retaining investment and businesses. We’re excited to play a role in this evolving success story as the port of choice for the Midwest.

by William Friedman

Port of Cleveland Announces Best Month for New Liner Service

Cleveland Europe Express shows major increase in volume, while established maritime and development finance revenues also up substantially

CLEVELAND, OH (July 17, 2014) – The Port of Cleveland announced that its Cleveland-Europe Express, the dedicated monthly liner service that launched in April, had its best month to date in June. This start-up service doubled its revenues in June when compared to either April or May.

“The Port of Cleveland is booming and we are very encouraged by the performance of the new Cleveland-Europe Express service, which is still in its infancy,” said William D. Friedman, president and CEO. “The large increase in volume in June bodes well for the remainder of the year as we continue to offer companies and shippers throughout the interior U.S. a faster, more cost-effective and greener shipping alternative to Europe and the world.” 2014.07.17 Full Press Release 


Port of Cleveland Approves Financing for American Greetings HQ

CLEVELAND, OH (May 21, 2014) – The Port of Cleveland’s Board of Directors today approved up to $110 million in bond financing to assist the American Greetings Corporation in building a new world headquarters at Crocker Park in Westlake.

American Greetings is a manufacturer and retailer of innovative social expression products, such as greeting cards, gift packaging and other party goods. One of the world’s largest greeting card producers and founded in Cleveland more than 100 years ago, its leadership had considered regional and out-of-state headquarters for renovation or relocation. Its board ultimately decided to remain in Cuyahoga County with the help and financing cooperation of the City of Westlake, Ohio Development Services Agency, State of Ohio and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority.  Full Press Release 2014.05.21 American Greetings


April 22, 2014 – CLEVELAND, OH- The Port of Cleveland welcomed on Tuesday the first vessel of the Cleveland-Europe Express cargo service from Antwerp, Belgium, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway.  On the vessel’s first round trip voyage, it is carrying cargo moving between five states and seven countries. 

The Cleveland-Europe Express is the only regularly scheduled international container and non-containerized cargo service on the Great Lakes. It is the fastest and greenest route between Europe and North America’s heartland, allowing regional companies to ship their goods up to four days faster than using water, rail, and truck routes via the U.S. East Coast ports.

Marc Krantz, chairman of the Port of Cleveland Board of Directors, said that the service is something that the Port of Cleveland’s board members and leadership have been working on since the board developed its strategic plan 2 years ago. “The service takes advantage of the manufacturing strength of Northeast Ohio and the geography of the Cleveland port itself as the first major stop in the U.S on the Seaway system,” Krantz said.  Full Press Release 2014.04.22 Liner Service


CLEVELAND, OH- The Port of Cleveland’s Board of Directors approved on Thursday, April 17, financing to help the next phases of Crocker Park.

The Port approved the issuance and sale of up to $7 million in bonds to develop new commercial, retail and residential components within Crocker Park, including five new restaurants, a new 110 room Hyatt Place premium hotel, and 386-space private parking garage.

The Port is a crucial partner in building Cuyahoga County’s future and plays an important role in stimulating economic development by connecting private investors with landmark projects throughout our region. Full Press Release 2014.04.17 Crocker Park

US Transportation Secretary Names Port of Cleveland CEO to Maritime Industrial Advisory Panel

CLEVELAND, OH- U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently appointed Port of Cleveland President and CEO Will Friedman to the Marine Transportation System National Advisory Council (MTSNAC).

Established in 2010, MTSNAC is comprised of leaders from commercial transportation firms, trade associations, state and local public entities, labor organizations, academics, and environmental groups that advise the Secretary on policies to ensure that the U.S. Marine Transportation System is capable of responding to projected trade increases.

“It is truly an honor to be selected by Secretary Foxx to serve on the MTSNAC.,” said Friedman. “I look forward to working closely with fellow Council members to assist Secretary Foxx and Maritime Administrator Jaenichen and their team to map out the future of marine transportation in our country.  I am a firm believer that maritime, as a component of our multimodal system, will contribute even more to long term economic growth as a high-capacity, low-cost, sustainable and safe mode of transport.”   Full Press Release 2014.04.16 MTSNAC Appointment



Cleveland-Europe Express will arrive in Cleveland in two weeks

CLEVELAND, OH- With the departure of the vessel “Fortunagracht” out of Antwerp, Belgium over the weekend, the Cleveland-Europe Express service between the Cleveland Harbor and Europe via the Saint Lawrence Seaway has officially launched. The vessel is loaded with breakbulk and containerized cargo and is set to dock in Cleveland around April 17. 

The Cleveland-Europe Express is the only regular, scheduled international container and non-containerized cargo service on the Great Lakes. The Port of Cleveland and Dutch company The Spliethoff Group entered into an agreement in November 2013 to begin the service. It is the fastest and greenest route between Europe and North America’s heartland, allowing regional companies to ship their goods up to four days faster than using water, rail, and truck routes via the U.S. East Coast ports.

Will Friedman, president & CEO of the Port of Cleveland, said the market is responding very favorably and in line with expectations.  Full Press Release 2014.04.07 Liner Service Underway



Also elects officers and renews key operations contracts

CLEVELAND, OH- The Port of Cleveland approved a resolution at its March Board of Directors meeting directing the Port’s management to work with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure the timely start and completion of dredging necessary for the 2014 shipping season utilizing existing confined facilities for disposal of the material. 

In its resolution, the Port Board noted that, to avoid significant detrimental impact to the economic vitality of the region, dredging the Cuyahoga River and Cleveland Harbor must start without delay. The Board also asked that the decision process of the Army Corps of Engineers with regard to the placement of dredged material in the open waters of Lake Erie be deliberate and transparent and provide for adequate time for careful consideration of all pertinent data and views, including State regulatory agency findings and local plans. Full Press Release 2014.03.13 Dredge

November 2013

William D. Friedman, President & CEO

Last week, the Port of Cleveland was excited to announce its plans to launch the Cleveland-Europe Express, a regularly scheduled express freight shipping service between Cleveland to Europe.  We expect to launch this service in April of 2014, and see it as a transformative moment for our Port and our local economy, providing yet another tool for Cleveland to compete globally and support local businesses as they reach across borders.

At our announcement, we were honored to welcome many of the key supporters of this initiative. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation Betty Sutton, President & CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership Joe Roman, and a number of local business and civic leaders expressed the value of the service to our economy, and I want to thank all of them for their support for this important initiative.  What those in attendance heard was the result of strategic thought, creative planning, smart negotiation, and a collective vision that will reshape shipping in Ohio and the Midwest.

The Cleveland-Europe Express will be the only scheduled international container service on the Great Lakes, freeing regional businesses from relying on East Coast ports to ship their good to Europe.  This helps cut time, expenses, and logistical headaches for existing businesses, and makes Cleveland more attractive to new enterprises. It’s also in line with our Port’s focus on promoting green and sustainable practices, as shipping is the most efficient method to move goods, using the least amount of fuel and saving companies as much as four days shipping time.

Our outreach to the business community has shown strong support for the liner service, and our research indicates that up to 400,000 additional tons of cargo will be shipped through the Port of Cleveland.  Those are big numbers, and we expect them to grow as we spread the word and establish our liner service as the most reliable and cost efficient way to ship goods from the Midwest to Europe and vice versa.  I encourage businesses interested in using the service to contact me directly at

Finally, I want to remind everyone that the Port has placed Issue 82 on the countywide fall ballot to continue its operations and support our local economy. The levy is a renewal, not a tax increase. If approved, the levy funds will exclusively support current Port work in maritime and economic development and not any other new initiatives. That includes important work such as the Cleveland-Europe Express, which will build upon the Port’s existing efforts to position Cleveland in the global economy.

In Memoriam – Charles “Arnie” de la Porte

The Port of Cleveland recently lost a great friend and true champion of the Port and Cleveland, Charles “Arnie” de la Porte.

In his roles as a successful businessman, entrepreneur, and Honorary Consul for the Netherlands in Ohio, Arnie was an expert in all things maritime and promoter extraordinaire for the Port and Greater Cleveland.  He also was the person most responsible for bringing the Tall Ships Festival to Cleveland through his involvement in Rotary Club of Cleveland. The Port and the thousands who annually enjoy this majestic festival owe him a debt of gratitude.

No one cared more about the success of our Port than Arnie and no one did more to make it a success.  Everyone here at the Port extends our heartfelt condolences to the de la Porte family at this difficult time, and we hope they can take some solace in the fact that Arnie’s passion and energy had such a great impact on our community.

Will Friedman

President and CEO


On the Docks

Cleveland-Europe Express Ocean Freight Service

The Great Lakes are an essential part of America’s transportation network, providing an extremely efficient method of shipping goods.  Yet surprisingly, no regularly scheduled international shipping option currently exists on any of its ports.  That is all about to change, thanks to the Port of Cleveland’s plans to launch the Cleveland-Europe Express Ocean Freight Service in April 2014.

“We see this as a transformative moment for our Port and our regional economy,” said Port President and CEO Will Friedman.  “This gives Cleveland a strategic tool to compete globally and support local businesses as they reach across borders and connect our goods to the world.”

Currently, local manufacturers use East Coast ports to ship goods to Europe, incurring additional rail and truck costs along the way. The Cleveland Europe-Express will allow local companies to ship out of their own backyards, simplifying logistics and reducing shipping time and costs.

The Cleveland-Europe Express will travel from the Port of Cleveland, through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway and across the Atlantic to Europe.  What some might not realize is that due to the added time lag associated with transferring cargo to and from rail and/or truck, the Ports new liner service will actually save time for those shipping goods.

That difference in travel time can be up to four days, a major efficiency for businesses always looking to streamline expenses. “Just think of all the fuel alone it takes to ship goods on those additional days, and you can begin to understand the dynamics at play here,” said Friedman. “Those and many other costs add up, and we limit them with the liner service.”

The liner service will run at least once per month, and more frequently as demand dictates. The Port is in the final stages of securing an agreement with the Spliethoff Group, a Dutch company specializing in global shipping, to operate the Cleveland-Europe Express. As part of the deal, the Port would avoid any initial capital investment.  “We fully expect the Cleveland-Europe Express not only to cover expenses, but to also generate revenue, directly for the Port, and provide a major benefit for Cleveland companies,” said Friedman.

The local ripple effect of the liner service should be significant according to a market analysis conducted for the Port by Martin and Associates. That study found that sufficient unmet demand for this service exists, and that it should generate more than $50 million in increased economic activity, including hundreds of new jobs.  The study indicates that an additional 250,000 to 400,000 tons of cargo will be shipped through the Port of Cleveland.  That represents roughly 10-15% of Ohio’s trade with Europe, a number that is expected to grow as the Port continues to market the service.

Local business leaders have expressed strong support for the Cleveland-Europe Express, with major companies including Lubrizol, Lincoln Electric, and RPM stating that it could create additional efficiencies. “Having a direct shipping option to Europe will increase the competitiveness of The Lubrizol Corporation,” said Steve Warthon, Operations Manager at Lubrizol. “We commend the Port of Cleveland for taking the initiative to help businesses save time and money in global trade and position Cleveland as a global competitor.”

The added competitiveness should also help Cleveland recruit new companies, according to Jay Foran of Team NEO, which helps attract new businesses to Northeast Ohio. “The liner service would be a significant addition to the business case we present when attracting companies,” said Foran, Senior Vice President of Business Attraction, who also noted the benefit of retaining existing businesses.

“The Cleveland-Europe Express is something the staff has worked especially hard on, and the payoff will be seeing our community become stronger economically,” said Friedman. “We can help connect Cleveland to new markets, to more capital, to new businesses – that’s our goal, and the Cleveland-Europe Express hits all those touchstones.”

Along the Water

Great Lakes Maritime Leadership Coalesces in Cleveland

Cleveland may be just one of a number of cities with ports along the Great Lakes, but its depth of leadership in all things maritime is truly unique.  In recent months and years, a historic number of maritime leaders have come to call the area home.  With this leadership in place, Cleveland is positioned as a city with an exceptional concentration of skill, thought, and influence on the future of the Great Lakes, laying the foundation for an even more robust maritime economy.

“Northeast Ohio and the Port of Cleveland benefit immensely from the depth of leadership we have in the maritime field,” said Will Friedman, Port President and CEO. “It’s really unprecedented to have this kind of influence in the maritime realm concentrated in Cleveland.”

Part of that leadership depth comes from family traditions and long-term investments.  The Baker family is a multigenerational example of that leader in Cleveland through their work with the International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO  (ILA).  John Baker, Sr. is assistant general organizer for the ILA, and acts as chief negotiator for ILA contracts for over 8,000 members at both U.S. and Canadian Great Lakes ports.  And Baker’ Sr. son, John D. Baker, Jr., serves as President of the ILA’s Great Lakes District Council.

The Interlake Steamship Company is another example of a long-term family dedication to maritime that provides Cleveland with key leadership in the field.  Based in Middleburg Heights, Interlake is one of the Great Lakes’ largest ship owning and operating companies, and has over 300 employees.  Mark Barker is President and CEO, continuing a long time family tradition as the company celebrates its centennial this year.

Another long-term local maritime organization with Great Lakes wide prominence is The Lakes Carriers’ Association (LCA). Founded in 1880, LCA is a trade association representing United States carriers, and focuses on promoting waterborne commerce on the Great Lakes.  LCA and its president, James Weakley, are headquartered in Rocky River.

Even given Cleveland’s historical leadership in maritime, 2013 has been a banner year for local accomplishment in the field.  In June of this year, Rear Admiral Fred Midgette assumed duty as the Ninth Coast Guard District Commander, overseeing Coast Guard operations for the five Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Seaway and leading 6,000 Coast Guard personnel.  Rear Admiral Midgette and the 9th District of the Coast Guard are headquartered here in Cleveland, and his presence and new position help raise the local maritime profile.

This July, President Barack Obama appointed former US Representative Betty Sutton the administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

Sutton is a Northeast Ohio native who previously represented Ohio’s 13th House District from 2007 to 2012 and whose legal career in Cleveland frequently involved maritime issues.

The Port of Cleveland was also honored this July when Friedman was named the President of American Great Lakes Ports Association (AGLPA).  The AGLPA represents the interests of US based public port authorities on the Great Lakes, informing and influencing public policies to promote maritime commerce in the Great Lakes region.

This concentration of leadership suggests a bright future for maritime in Cleveland and its port, which has seen a significant uptick in the amount of cargo shipped this year. “Our vision is for The Port of Cleveland to be the premier port on the Great Lakes,” said Friedman.  “We intend to leverage the expertise and influence that Cleveland’s abundance of maritime leaders provides to achieve that goal.”


In the Community

Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve Trail Extention


Those looking to experience nature may think they need to travel far from Cleveland to find a truly wild setting.  But just minutes from Downtown, the Port of Cleveland continues to make the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve into adestination for those seeking to escape city life for an hour or two.  And with the opening of an expanded trails network this fall, previously inaccessible areas of the Preserve are now open to the public.

“The Lakefront Nature Preserve is a key to the Port of Cleveland’s commitment to being green and sustainable, and we’ve invested significantly in making it more visitor friendly since opening it to the public just last year,” said Port President and CEO Will Friedman.  “With the additional of these new trails, people can begin to fully experience all the breathtaking scenery the site has to offer.”

The 88-acre Nature Preserve was originally created to hold sediment dredged from the Cuyahoga riverbed to keep the shipping channel open. Over a decade ago, sediment placement ended, and as the soil settled, an amazing array of flora and fauna gradually claimed the site.  Today, one can find habitats including grasslands, forest, and meadows. Animals as diverse as coyotes, minks, and deer (to name a few) call the Preserve home, and Audubon Ohio has designated it an Important Bird Area. And visitors from across the world have made their way to the site to experience its unique natural settings.

Following on the heels of the Garden Club of Cleveland’s September dedication of a new scenic overlook plaza on the western edge of the site, this October, the Port opened the Monarch Trail and Northern Harrier Trail on the site’s interior and an expanded the eastern half of the now fully completed Perimeter Trail. The quarter-mile Monarch Trail calls attention to the impressive butterfly population along its path in warm weather, while the half-mile Northern Harrier Trail takes its name from the majestic hawks that patrol the skies above.

The completed Perimeter Trail now boasts 1.75 miles of path, and its new eastern section allows unparalleled views of Lake Erie. “The eastern edge has beautiful vistas of the lake unlike anywhere in Cleveland, especially because it is beyond the breakwall,” said Linda Sternheimer, the Port’s development manager.  “And the interior trails will introduce visitors to new wildlife and environments that you won’t see in a park setting.”

The Port engaged the Cleveland Metroparks on construction and maintenance of the trails.  The work was completed in time for visitors to use the new trails to catch sight of the many species of birds stopping by on their trip south for the winter. The new trails expand the total available from 1.3 miles to over 2.5 miles.

Harvey Webster, Director of the Wildlife Resource Center at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, believes these new trails are the final piece to make the Preserve as Northeast Ohio’s premier destination for birdwatchers and nature lovers. “The Lakefront Nature Preserve was already a great asset, but by expanding the trails, the Port has provided unprecedented access and significantly raised the stature of the site,” he said.

“In some ways, the Nature Preserve is a hidden gem, so we hope these new trails encourage more people to come experience the site,” said Sternheimer. “It’s an ideal place to encounter a truly wild natural setting, and just enjoy the fresh air, the scenery, and a chance to get away for a few hours.” Webster agrees.  “The original vision for the Preserve as a place to connect and interact with nature and Lake Erie has really come to fruition in spectacular fashion.”


eNewsletter: March 2014

William D. Friedman
President & CEO

We expect April 9th to be a historic day for the Port of Cleveland and for shipping and logistics in the Midwest.  That’s when the inaugural voyage of the Cleveland – Europe Express will dock at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River and introduce a reliable way of moving goods from our region as the Great Lake’s only regularly scheduled express liner service to Europe.  Two days later, the ship will be off to Antwerp, Belgium to complete the Express’ first round trip and begin providing what we expect to be major benefits – we expect up to 400,000 additional tons of cargo to travel through our Port, representing roughly 10-15% of Ohio’s European trade.

The liner service is a centerpiece of our continued efforts to evolve the Port to serve the 21st Century needs of Northeast Ohio’s business community, helping our region compete globally and positioning our service portfolio to act as a key economic driver.  We are seeing success in our goals – last year, we experienced a 20% increase in the volume of tonnage shipped through our facilities.  We attribute this major bump partly to our on-site investments, such as our rail loop, which helped more than double the amount of goods shipped by rail out of the Port in 2013. (You can read more about the success of our rail investment in this issue). Above all, we see the increase in volume as a testament to our spirit of partnership with local businesses, taking stock of their needs, and evolving our model to link them to an ever-evolving global economy.

The Port understands that Cleveland is a player in the global economy, and regional demand exists for shipping options to reach markets around the world. We know from our research that goods made here are used everywhere – you might not realize that Cleveland businesses are even shipping consumer goods for use in China. As the nation’s economy has gradually ramped up, we have seen the numbers demonstrate our local economy’s resiliency and continued capacity in manufacturing.

The liner service is a major investment by the Port, and a strategic bet on Cleveland’s future. We believe that our local businesses are strong, that unmet demand exists, and that we can free businesses from relying on East Coast ports, cutting time, expenses, and logistical headaches. The Express also meets our goal of promoting green, sustainable practices—shipping is the most fuel-efficient method to move goods, and shaves days off travel. 

This time next year, we hope to report back to you on the progress we’ve made increasing cargo volumes and efficiencies, and continuing to reach new markets.  We aspire to be a dynamic agent in Greater Cleveland’s economy, both through our continued efforts in development finance, environmental stewardship, and partnering to create a vibrant waterfront, but our focused push to innovate within our core maritime operations are critical to our strategy.


Next Page »