- Associated Press - Saturday, June 13, 2015

CLEVELAND (AP) - A freight shipping service is doubling the frequency of its service between the Port of Cleveland and the Port of Antwerp this year due to high demand as the Ohio port seeks to establish itself as a Midwest hub for shipping to Europe.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority came up with the idea for Cleveland-Europe Express last year, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reports (https://bit.ly/1TesNN1).

Local businesses can load their products on ships in Cleveland’s port to be sent to Europe directly. The service takes only two weeks, while the indirect route takes several weeks.

The amount of cargo has tripled during the past year and includes assorted containerized cargo, including scrap metal, retail goods and machinery.

David Gutheil, the port’s vice president for maritime and logistics, said vessels traveling Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes have traditionally carried non-containerized cargo, such as steel coils and grain. But Gutheil says port officials knew the potential demand for containerized shipping existed.

The port is investing in Amsterdam-based Spliethoff Group, its vessel partner, to assure more shipments.

“Last year, we were chartering the vessel, which is equivalent to renting a car,” Gutheil said. “This year, we’re basically an investor in the service.”

The port is contributing $2.5 million to guarantee at least two trips to Europe each month, Gutheil said.

“The port of Cleveland had the vision to make a commitment. They have the same vision we see,” said Bart Peters, Spliethoff’s director of the Atlantic Department.

Often the ships leaving for Antwerp, Belgium, are only half-full with goods from Cleveland-area businesses.

Abbey Greenfield of Cleveland’s River Recycling said more area businesses probably haven’t considered exporting because it isn’t the easiest endeavor, especially for smaller companies.

“Originally, we only thought about going from Cleveland to Antwerp,” she said. “It opened our eyes that they could take something elsewhere in Europe. We are not only shipping to Antwerp, but other cities.”

Peters sees Cleveland as the focal point for an entire Midwest operation.

“Cleveland is really doing a brave thing to get things started and create Cleveland as a seaport - an international port in the midst of the USA,” he said.


This story has been corrected to show the name of the service is Cleveland-Europe Express, not Cleveland-Express Europe.


Information from: The Plain Dealer, https://www.cleveland.com

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