Port Power: Indiana’s Ports Help Make State a Logistics Powerhouse

Port Power: Indiana’s Ports Help Make State a Logistics Powerhouse

Richard Cooper

By Rich Cooper, Ports of Indiana CEO

As evidenced by the recently released 2017 Indiana Logistics Directory, our state is truly a logistics powerhouse ranking among the top 10 states in 100 significant logistics-related categories. Our prime Midwest location and extensive multimodal transportation system not only provides easy access to other states, but our proximity to water has allowed our state to build three ports that give Indiana companies unparalleled connectivity to world markets so crucial in today’s global economy. According to the Directory, we are ranked first in pass-through interstates, third in the number of freight railroads, sixth in U.S. domestic waterborne traffic and 11th in total waterborne shipping. Companies using our ports ship cargoes to or from 31 countries and all 50 states.

The fact that Indiana is more than 600 miles from the nearest ocean is actually an advantage to companies who depend on waterborne transportation and do not want to pay huge premiums associated with locating on the east, west and Gulf coasts. Governor Holcomb and our state legislature have made transportation infrastructure one of their highest priorities and this kind of high level commitment is very reassuring to businesses.  Indiana has more than 400 miles of navigable waterways. In fact, 57 percent of the state’s boundary is water with Lake Michigan to the north giving us direct ocean access through the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, and the Ohio River to the south, connecting via the Mississippi River down to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, in Portage, was Indiana’s first port, opening in 1970. Located in the “steel capital of North America,” this northwest Indiana port is recognized as one of the top steel ports in the country for inbound and outbound shipments of steel-related products. Home to 30 companies—15 of them steel-related—it handles international ships, large lake vessels and river barges. The port’s ability to handle heavy-lift and large-dimensional cargoes—known as project cargoes—is well established, too. Recent oversize shipments have included beer fermentation tanks, giant-dimensional cargoes for the Whiting, Ind. BP refinery modernization, wind farm turbines and blades as well as huge cranes and containers of crane components from Europe.

The Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville began operations in 1985 and is located on the northern bank of the Ohio River, across from Louisville, an area known for its auto and appliance manufacturing. The port serves the top six auto manufacturers in the U.S. and is one of the fastest growing auto supplier centers in the country. With the recent opening of the nearby Lewis & Clark Bridge over the Ohio River, a shortcut around Louisville is now available reducing travel time from points east and south by 30 minutes or more. In addition, a transportation corridor will connect the 6,000-acre River Ridge Commerce Center, an industrial park one mile from the port that offers sites zoned for heavy industrial, commercial or agricultural development. When completed in 2020, River Ridge will have a heavy-haul road and rail line connection to provide access to the port’s waterborne and railroad shipping options.

Opened for business in 1976 near Evansville, today the Port of Indiana-Mount Vernon is thriving with its emphasis on energy and agricultural shipments. Mount Vernon is home to the sixth largest inland port district in the country and the city’s port is the only one in the country with an available 500-acre mega site connected to five Class I railroads and the Ohio River near the median center of the U.S. population. The port moves more cargo by water and rail than any other port in the state and annually handles 3,300 barges, 40,000 rail cars and 140,000 trucks.

Maritime operations at our state’s three ports contribute over $7.8 billion in total economic activity per year to regional economies and support nearly 60,000 total jobs.

The ports have over 1,000 acres of industrial sites for multimodal companies looking to leverage maritime and rail connections to lower supply chain costs, especially in the steel, agricultural or energy sectors. If your multimodal business is looking to relocate or explore new shipping options for lowering supply chain costs, contact the ports via portsofindiana.com.



Rich Cooper

Rich Cooper, CEO for the Ports of Indiana, is responsible for providing strategic leadership and management of all port operations in accordance with the mission, policies and financial objectives established by the Board of Commissioners. The Ports of Indiana is a statewide port authority managing three ports on the Ohio River and Lake Michigan.