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November 17, 2011 - Image 47

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-11-17

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Designation Detr@it

Guest column

The Birth Of America's Newest Inland Port

ver the last few years a plan
to transform the economy
of Southeast Michigan into a
global trade center has been
brewing, and that plan is now almost
ready to launch.
The plan began independently
from ideas generated by the Detroit
Regional Chamber's now-retired
President, Dick Blouse, who created
"TranslinkeD"; ideas championed
by Wayne County Executive Robert
Ficano and Doug Rothwell of Busi-
ness Leaders for Michigan, which led
to the creation of the "Aerotropolis";
and an idea I generated to transform
Michigan into an inland port for the
seaport of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
This overall initiative, launched
by the Great Lakes Gateway (GLG), a
Michigan not-for-profit corporation,
is known as the Great Lakes Global
Freight Gateway.
The concept builds on Michigan's
strength as a manufacturing power-
house as well as its strengths in agri-
cultural commodities that are in high
demand globally, especially in Asian
markets. It also builds on efforts of
President Barack Obama and Gov.
Rick Snyder to emphasize America's
capacity for export development in a
global economy.
The Great Lakes Global Freight
Gateway partners with east- and west-
coast Canadian ports and transconti-
nental railroads that have a
key presence in the Detroit
area to make Michigan the
fastest, most reliable and
lowest cost access point to
and from Midwest markets.
Finally, by collaborating
with Canadian public and
private interests in southwest
Ontario as well as in Halifax,
this new freight corridor has
become an international ef-


Growing Jobs

The Great Lakes Gateway unveiled
this initiative in a series of private
and public meetings on Oct. 11. The
business meetings included a vice
president of the Canadian National
(CN) Railway as well as the entire
executive team of the Halifax Port Au-
thority. An afternoon meeting includ-
ed approximately 30 cargo owners -
companies with freight to export and
import - as well as representatives
of some freight carriers and logistics
Our initial estimates project that
by transforming our region into an
intermodal freight center, concentrat-
ing on global trade, we stand to gain
approximately 215,000 jobs and at
least $10 billion in new annual eco-
nomic activity, when the Gateway and
the Aerotropolis are combined.
We also estimate, based on official
Michigan data, that this $10 billion
increase in GDP would generate an


Dark blue lines are railroads; white lines are highways, following almost identical routes. Left: Michigan/Ontario
Geographic Advantage and Infrastructure Assets. Right: Michigan-Montreal-Halifax Corridor

additional $1.37 billion in additional
revenue to the state of Michigan
and municipal governments through
taxes, fees and services. This will
help Michigan to grow its way out of
the current funding crisis.
The GLG projects that the first
phase - marketing the value of this
inland port to customers - will begin
to bear fruit by the end of 2012, by
which time container freight volume
will begin to increase measurably.
We forecast that container traffic
on the CN will double by
the end of 2013, from the
current 45,000 container lifts
to 100,000 containers. Once
the cargo volume reaches
100,000 containers at CN's
Detroit facilities, the railway
will be nearing its maximum
capacity, creating demand
for new and expanded facili-
As freight volume increas-
es to GLG's target volume of
200,000 containers via CN and an ad-
ditional 200,000 containers via other
railroads, extensive capacity invest-
ments will become necessary. New
intermodal distribution centers and
logistics parks may require as much
as $2 billion in investment, depend-
ing on size and functionality.
The GLG can launch operations to-
day using existing facilities to handle
intermodal cargo between Halifax
and Southeast Michigan. We hope
to double international container
handling in this region by the end of
This Michigan-Halifax freight cor-
ridor would reach markets in Europe,
the Middle East and Asia. Working
with the CN, it also envisions creating
an additional Midwest inland distribu-
tion point for freight transported via
CN's Midwest Express, running from
the Canadian Pacific Northwest to the
U.S. Midwest. The GLG anticipates
beginning further conversations with
other railroads to provide comparable
service. Specifically, the Canadian

Engineered to Amaze

Pacific Railway also provides trans-
continental service into Detroit from
seaports in Montreal and Vancouver.

Value for Cargo Owners

What is the value proposition for car-
go owners? GLG has benefited from
an analysis provided by Menlo Logis-



Gourmet Popcorn

tics that suggests that cargo owners
can save between two and 11 days
of transit time by using the Michigan-
Halifax corridor for freight transiting
between northern Europe and the
Midwest. This time savings, along
with additional cost savings currently
available, would save between $250

Continued on page 8

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November 17 2011


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