Resiliency and reinvestment are key to Port Milwaukee’s operating strategy.
Adam Tindall-Schlicht, director of Port Milwaukee, has developed immediate trade growth, while also planning for this Wisconsin facility to be the Great Lakes’ premiere port for the next 50 years.
Developing ag exports
In 2019, Port Milwaukee was among the first ports to receive a $16 million Port Infrastructure Development Program grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration.
For Port Milwaukee, this partially funds a new $35 million agriculture export facility. Construction started in 2021 and will be fully operational by the summer of 2023. In August, Tindall-Schlicht reported that the construction was “on budget and on time.”
Beyond the federal grant, this future facility’s funding came from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Port Milwaukee, and The DeLong Company, Inc.
DeLong’s participation makes this a public-private investment project, which is expected to increase Milwaukee’s ag exports by 400,000 metric tons annually, according to Tindall-Schlicht.
Based in Clifton, WI, DeLong is a sixth-generation agribusiness firm, with six divisions: agronomy, grain and transportation.
The new agricultural export facility, according to the port, will be one of the first on the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Seaway system to handle various agricultural commodities by truck, rail, and international vessel. Foremost among the commodities is dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGs). DDGs are an ethanol byproduct, creating a highly desirable, high-nutrient food for livestock worldwide.
Milwaukee’s new ag facility will open Wisconsin’s maritime and agricultural economies to new international markets for this and other products.
Tindall-Schlicht said DDGs shipped from his port is sourced from ethanol plants in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. Key global markets for DDGs are in northern and western Europe, north Africa, and Mediterranean Basin countries.
Future service at the facility will also include the export of Wisconsin-grown soybeans, corn, and grain.
Planning for the next 50 year
Tindall-Schlicht, who’s served as Port Milwaukee’s director since August 2018, said the port has worked in that time on a strategy to implement all necessary upgrades and enhancements for Milwaukee to be the Great Lakes’ premiere port through 2070.
This long-term strategy is tabbed the Capital Asset Renewal Plan. The plan outlines the $200 million in needed investment over time to boost infrastructure that’s been in place since the 1950s, at the time of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
“For the last four years we’ve focused on renewal and reinvention, looking for opportunities that will help lay the groundwork for the next generations at the port,” said Tindall-Schlicht.
Port Milwaukee is reinvesting for future commercial expansion, while exploring and pursuing new uses of the port.
The recent push has involved some demolition of facilities that were underutilized for 20 years and using that real estate to be more efficient with flexible new developments, including the DeLong terminal.
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