LEEDCo Positioning Cleveland to Power the Globe

Offshore wind has emerged as a major player in the renewable energy economy of the future – and Cleveland has an opportunity to become a leader in the field, thanks to the work of Lake Erie Economic Development Corporation (LEEDCo).  I was recently honored to join the board of LEEDCo, a local non-profit formed in 2009 to spur economic development in Ohio by supporting our nascent offshore wind energy industry. The Port of Cleveland was among a small group of public and private interests, led by Cuyahoga County, which provided initial seed funding for LEEDCo when formed.

The timing for LEEDCo’s work is right.  As of 2013, the offshore wind industry was on target globally to hit its seventh consecutive year of growth. Internationally, countries are already meeting significant portions of their energy needs through offshore wind. The London Array, the world’s largest off shore wind farm with 175 turbines costing over $3 billon, powers 500,000 English homes. Denmark has set a goal of producing 50% of its electricity from renewable wind by 2020 – and is already above 30%. Even China, not necessarily associated with renewables, now stands at fourth globally in offshore wind production.

All signs also point to offshore wind energy as a growth industry in the US. While our nation currently has deployed only one small-scale demonstration offshore wind turbine, that’s all about to change. The US Department of Energy has moved ahead with pilot projects off the coasts of New Jersey, Oregon, and Virginia.  The very first offshore wind project will begin construction this summer off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island. With many other projects and pilots in progress, it’s clear where the momentum is headed.  In fact, the Energy Department estimates that 20% of all US’s energy could come from wind power by 2030.

Competition in the offshore wind market is heating up, with major international corporate players looking to make waves in the US. But Ohio has the opportunity to compete and win, thanks to LEEDCo, which has set, and is on track to realize, ambitious goals. Those goals include making Cleveland the site of North America’s first offshore freshwater wind energy project, called Project IceBreaker. Projections are for that project to be completed and generating clean electricity in 2018, leveraging IceBreaker to pave the way for 5,000 MW of wind energy in Lake Erie by  2030.

In addition to the iconic impact on our collective psyches of seeing the turbines in action, the real impact will be twofold: environmental and economic. Our region will better positioned as a leader in environmental issues, including clean water and energy. And we’ll also attract investment, create jobs, and ultimately export products and expertise, leveraging existing core regional strengths in R & D, manufacturing, and maritime services through the new wind industry. 

The Port stands ready to directly serve the project as the assembly and launching platform for the giant windmill components.  But beyond that, it seems to me that LEEDCo and the Port share some common DNA.  We both pursue ambitious visions for responsible, sustainable use of our Great Lake to foster jobs and competiveness.

Finally, I want to commend Ronn Richard, who chairs the LEEDCo board when he’s not busy running The Cleveland Foundation, and Lorry Wagner, LEEDCo’s CEO.  Ronn’s strong advocacy and support have sustained the effort and Lorry has doggedly pushed on despite being buffeted over the years by headwinds (sorry, couldn’t resist that one).  With their leadership, LEEDCo is setting the stage for Northeast Ohio in the wind industry.  That’s the kind of energy Cleveland can use more of – on so many levels.


Will Friedman

President & CEO


Port of Cleveland Taps Chris Ronayne to Lead Board of Directors

New slate of Officers elected as Port positions to continue role in supporting jobs, global competiveness for the region

Cleveland, Ohio (March 31, 2015) – The Board of Trustees for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority today unanimously elected Chris Ronayne as its new board chair. As President and CEO of University Circle, Inc., which oversees the growth and direction of one of Ohio’s fastest growing employment district, Ronayne has led planning, development, education, marketing, police, and other shared services for the district over a decade of sustained growth.

“I’m truly looking forward to leveraging the economic power of the Port of Cleveland to create more jobs for Cleveland and Northeast Ohio,” said Ronayne. “From our international export capacity to our financing capabilities, the Port of Cleveland is a key logistics hub and financing center that can enhance our regional economic development agenda.”  2015.03.31 Full Press Release Port Board Leadership

Port Board Approves Agreement to Expand Cleveland-Europe Express

Dynamic board agenda also includes milestones in development finance and environmental stewardship


Cleveland, Ohio (March 31, 2015) – The Board of Directors for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority met today and approved a dynamic agenda of items in maritime commerce, development finance, and environmental stewardship that will produce benefits for Northeast Ohio’s economy and citizens.

The Board approved a new service agreement with the Spliethoff Group to continue operating the Cleveland – Europe Express, the only direct, scheduled maritime service from the Great Lakes to Europe.  The new agreement will double the frequency of the service and continue the momentum from 2014, the inaugural season of the service. 2015.03.31 Full Press Release


Port wins 5th consecutive Pacesetter Award

Click the link below to read the full press release from the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.  2015 Pacesetter Awards Announced

Irish Town Bend Study Released

In 2013, the Port of Cleveland initiated a study to definitively determine what is causing instability in the Irish Town Bend hillside on the Cuyahoga River’s west bank. The slope, also called Franklin Hill, has deteriorated over time, and legitimate anxiety exists that a portion may slide into the river.

To get to the bottom of the situation, the Port Board appropriated funds to engage geotechnical engineers to thoroughly study the site and its history. That work recently wrapped up, and the findings are now available here.  As I explain below, we see the news as mostly good, but there are still challenges to address and opportunities to seize.

First, some good news.  Earlier studies had estimated the cost to address the threat of a hillside collapse  as high as $220 million. Our study pegs that number at a maximum of $48 million, and very possibly less. The bad news is that, while not likely, a landslide that could impede ship traffic and endanger people and property remains a legitimate concern that we must take seriously.

Remediation of the hill will involve a combination of elements including new bulkhead at the river edge, re-grading, street and sewer line repairs, and removing excess water infiltration.  This work could be completed within a year once funding is identified and all property owners consent.   The planned Lake Link Trail, a key connector to the lakefront at Wendy Park, traverses the hillside, providing further impetus to get the project done quickly.

The Port is committed to teaming with public, non-profit, and philanthropic partners and community stakeholders to secure the funds to ensure a safe, healthy, and economically beneficial solution. Look for more from us in the near future on this issue. 


Will Friedman

President and CEO

In Remembrance of Marc Krantz

January 6, 2015

Dear Friend of the Port of Cleveland,

By now you probably heard the very sad news that Mr. Marc Krantz, chair of the Port Authority Board since March of 2013 and member since 2009, passed away in a skiing accident on December 28th.  Mr. Krantz was managing partner of the law firm Kohrman, Jackson and Krantz and also deeply involved in many civic and community endeavors in addition to his service to the Port.   

First and foremost, our hearts go out to Marc’s family.  He was a beloved father, husband, son and brother.  There are no words to effectively convey our sympathy for and condolences to his family. 

Marc we will be deeply missed at the Port as well.  He was a visionary leader not afraid to take risk in pursuit of the Port’s mission, a strategic thinker, and a true champion of good governance for the Port organization.

Thanks to Marc, our Port is positioned better than ever to deliver on its mission to enhance economic opportunity and the quality of life in our region.  Despite starting the year with heavy hearts, we are inspired by Marc’s legacy to work even harder in 2015 to fully realize the potential of our Port and our region that he intended.   

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or any member of the Port team if we can be of service.

With best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2015!


William D. Friedman

President & CEO


CLEVELAND, OH (December 16, 2014) – The board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority voted today to accept an annual budget for 2015; it includes $20 million in capital investments to enhance maritime operations and sediment management.  2014.12.16 Full Press Release

Ohio is 8th in Maritime Commerce Produced, and Exploring Ways to Grow

I recently attended the annual convention in Houston of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). While I’m always excited to hear about what’s trending in the industry, this year I came away equally excited about the potential for Ohio to leverage its position as a leader in maritime commerce through public sector investment and partnership.  And that has a lot to do with an increased focus on maritime and ports by our state government.


Make no mistake about it – Ohio is a maritime state.  We rank eighth in the entire US for maritime commerce produced. This might surprise you, given that we are not on the east, west, or gulf coasts.  But our maritime capacity is an undeniable fact based on hard data that demands attention and action from our state leadership.


Some of our peer states – from Virginia and Maryland to Florida and Texas to California, and Washington – are driving state dollars from infrastructure, capital, transportation, and economic development budgets into maritime. But Ohio is also considering how to best position our ports as central to economic development strategies for attracting industry, investment, and vitality.


Our leaders in the Statehouse understand the potential of maritime and are taking action to explore the issue.  The Port of Cleveland, along with our peers at the ports in Cincinnati and Toledo, recently met with some of our state legislators to discuss the issue. The Ohio Senate recently pass a bill that formed a legislative subcommittee to study the issue of maritime commerce and state investment in Ohio in 2015.  This legislation, Senate Bill 291, was sponsored by Senators Gayle Manning, Frank LaRose, Nina Turner, Edna Brown and Michael Skindell.


At the administrative level, the State has already begun to partner more with ports to make strategic investments and address critical maritime related issues.  The Ohio EPA and Ohio Department of Natural Resources are working closely with ports to address issues related to dredging. And recent allocations from the capital budget have directed millions into the Healthy Lake Erie Fund that will help keep channels open for business and operating in a clean and green fashion.


All of this is good news for our economy, as most goods shipped internationally, and a huge amount of those shipped domestically, travel by water. Ohio is still a major manufacturing hub – producing over $80 billion in GDP. The savings maritime shipping provides to companies are immense – shipping goods by water from the Great Lakes though the St. Lawrence Seaway is 24% more fuel-efficient than rail and 531% more than truck.  So a strong port system makes Ohio even more attractive to companies seeking strategic advantages, and the state is recognizing this fact.


We’ll keep you informed as legislative efforts evolve in 2015. My hope is that by this time next year, I can report back some good news to you and to my colleagues at the AAPA, where I serve on its Executive Committee.  By investing to increase capacity, connectivity, and concentration of activity at our ports, Ohio can step up its game in maritime, making our businesses and overall economy even more competitive on a global scale.


Will Friedman, President & CEO

Part IV: Drying & Stacking Sediment to Saving Space & Dollars

In the first three installments of this series, we introduced the Port’s three-part plan to manage the sediment dredged from the Cuyahoga River shipping channel. We explained in depth the first two tactics in our strategy – upstream bed load interception and marketing sediment for beneficial use.  This chapter is an overview of the Port’s efforts to maximize space at our disposal facility by drying and vertically stacking sediment.

Studies commissioned by the Port indicate that roughly 30% of the +200,000 cubic yards of sediment removed annually from the Cuyahoga River can be harvested and sold in the market for beneficial uses. But some of it is too fine or its quality is too questionable to be sold. So what happens to this material? Historically, that material was placed in into big landfills along the Lake Erie shoreline that are called confined disposal facilities (CDFs). After being removed from the Cuyahoga riverbed, the sediment was mixed with water and simply pumped into the CDF as slurry.

The drawback of this method is that the water present in that slurry takes up a large amount of volume in the CDF. We recognized that if we remove the water or dewater the slurry, the then dried sediment can be stacked in the CDF. This practice can radically increase the amount of material placed on the site.

In the past, when US Army Corps of Engineers relied on hydraulic placement of sediment in a CDF, its capacity was limited to a “brimful” volume, as the material was too liquid to be assembled in mounds. The useful life of the CDF was restricted by the liquid limits. If we keep using this method, the existing CDF is expected to be at maximum capacity in 2015.

The Port’s plan is to shift methods and dewater the dredged materials as it is delivered to the CDF, which will allow us to take advantage of the airspace – the vertical area – above the site. By dewatering and vertical mounding, we can extend the current site’s useful life by as many as 35 years. When we subtract the volume that can be recaptured through the harvest and sale of qualified material, we can extend the useful life of the current CDF to nearly 50 years. This means real savings to local taxpayers, as the cost of a new CDF has been estimated at $150 million.

Best of all, dewatering sediment also means we can avoid the inherent risks of any open lake dumping of sediment, a method that also ignores its potential benefits.

This post is the final installment describing our integrated, holistic sediment management plan. The Port’s overall goals with this plan are to create efficiencies, save tax dollars, and ensure the long-term environmental, recreational, and economic health of our shared Cuyahoga shipping channel and community. We’re excited to get the plan moving and keep the river open for business. 


By Jim White, Director, Sustainable Infrastructure Programs



Part III: Selling Sediment Instead of Dumping It

In Part I of this series, we introduced the Port’s three-part plan to manage the sediment dredged from the Cuyahoga shipping channel and allow for a consistent depth for the big ships that must navigate the river. We then in Part II explained bed load interception – a process to keep a significant amount of sediment from entering the shipping channel in the first place by capturing it upstream; thus, preventing the need to spend more dollars dredging it.

This time around, we’ll discuss the Port’s plan to market much of the sediment dredged from the river for so-called “beneficial uses” – anything from beach replacement to composting to the pea gravel that you might use in your backyard.

Sediment dredged from the Cuyahoga, like all river sediment, is a mixture of organic material, silt, sand, and gravel. For years, all the sediment dredged out of the Cuyahoga has been treated the same – as a waste product to be placed into big landfills called confined disposal facilities (CDFs). But after years of research and development, and a splash of entrepreneurship, we are about to shift that paradigm, establishing Cleveland as national model for innovative methods for managing the dredged material.

We now recognize that some of the sediment can be “harvested” and sold for a number of purposes, including covering over brownfields, for road construction, to fill basements of demolished houses, and to restore aquatic habitat areas.

There are other uses, but the basic premise is to change the way we think about sediment. The cliché of one person’s trash is another’s treasure rings true here. We know that these materials are mined and sold in the market, and we intend to enter that market – creating space at the CDF and generating enough revenue to pay for operations.

But the Port’s goals go beyond marketing the sediment being dredged currently or in the future. We have a plan to reclaim significant portions of dredged sediment that has already been placed in the CDF that is suitable for beneficial use. 

By removing marketable material from the CDF, we will free up more space to place material not suitable for beneficial use. We predict enough space will be created to extend the useful life of the current CDF by approximately 50 years.

In essence, the CDF will no longer simply be a “landfill” – it will be an all around sediment repurposing facility. As part of our work to prepare the CDF for future dredging, the Port will sort through both new and previously placed materials on site at the CDF. We expect to generate 40,000 to 60,000 cubic yards of material for market annually. That’s a huge reduction in space used at the disposal site.

As the photo above demonstrates, the Port removed more than 200,000 cubic yards of sediment in 2010 from its CDFs to cover a brownfield in Cleveland, proving the potential for beneficial use on other sites in need of environmental remediation.

Next time, in our final installment, I’ll share our plan for dramatically increasing the permanent storage capacity in the CDF by drying and stacking unsuitable sediment. More told in the last installment.


By Jim White, Director, Sustainable Infrastructure Programs

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