Ignoring Creative Concepts Only Burdens Taxpayers
When you’ve had the chance to travel extensively and live in more than one major metropolitan city-state (I’ve resided in a handful including Cleveland before planting roots in Florida), it’s inspiring to see innovative concepts that have proven to be successful elsewhere and would not require reinventing any wheels. Concepts and ideas that could create rare opportunities for Northeast Ohio if considered. And, as someone who not only has spent the last twenty-plus years working in the international trade/maritime industry, but who’s also been affiliated (behind-the-scenes) with government/politics for several years, it is disappointing to see most of Northeast Ohio’s elected officials and business leaders ignore models that could potentially work well in Cleveland-Cuyahoga County.
According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, research proves that “roughly three-quarters of the world’s purchasing power and over 95% of the world’s consumers are located outside of America’s borders. And, a Peterson Institute for International Economics analysis estimated that the elimination of remaining global trade barriers would increase the benefits America already enjoys from trade by another 50%. Trade remains an engine of growth for America.“ (And, other countries too for that matter).
This means there is a growing need for manufactured products and equipment (made in places like Ohio) around the world. Coincidentally, for quite some time I’ve often pondered:
- Why the current leadership and Board of Directors at the Port of Cleveland has not effectively promoted or marketed the local waterfront port to the national and global business communities? Unless you work in manufacturing, maritime, or logistics, most people outside of Cuyahoga County do not know the Port of Cleveland exists or understand the significance of its services. Furthermore, anyone who travels frequently – domestically and internationally – will likely not hear the “Port of Cleveland” mentioned as an optional or preferred destination for cargo/freight coming into or out of the Midwest region. However, you can be assured that most such business professionals in other states and countries who have an interest in business relationships throughout the Midwest are quite familiar with Rickenbacker International Airport (LCK) in Columbus (which is one of the world’s only cargo-focused airports), and other popular cargo/freight gateways like the Port of Duluth-Superior, Port of Chicago, and/or other popular competing facilities.
- Why the leadership of the city, county, and port have not explored the idea of bringing smaller passenger vessels into Cleveland to accommodate the growing interest of one-day and two-day (local) cruise-oriented passengers? Cleveland and Cuyahoga County are missing out on tens of millions of dollars annually from this segment of the population alone.
- How the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, state, and federal officials should be contracting with environmentally conscious service providers like The Ocean Cleanup. These subject matter experts are the answer to irresponsible and destructive consumers who are notorious for discarding everything from plastic and glass bottles, non-biodegradable bags & utensils, and more into bodies of water that ultimately lead to contamination and other hazards. Especially since research has already proven that “1% of the world’s rivers (and lakes) are responsible for 80% of the pollution to our oceans.” These forward-thinkers could be one solution to ridding Lake Erie of such debris, which would then make it more appealing for tourism/waterfront enthusiasts.
- The City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and the Port of Cleveland collectively need to consider evaluating the pros-cons of what has continued to evolve from the creation of more industrial “warehouse space” near the Port of Savannah in Georgia. A like-minded push to create vast warehouse space (in communities surrounding seaports) could ultimately reduce financial burdens upon taxpayers and instead become another option for tax revenue from entities who engage in business with the Port of Cleveland or occupy warehouses developed in/near Downtown Cleveland. One key recommendation is to avoid oversaturation of warehouse development in overlapping residential neighborhoods.
Naturally, achieving those goals requires properly implementing an effective marketing plan and costly infrastructure improvements to the Port of Cleveland’s waterfront areas and neighboring communities. Investment that could certainly stimulate the local-regional economies via job creation, boost tourism dollars spent in Cleveland-Cuyahoga County, and increase the volume of products, equipment, and materials moving through local warehouse space and entering-exiting the Port of Cleveland.
Santura Pegram is the Director of Government Relations for STS Logistics LLC – Seaport Transportation Services LLC. A socially conscious and seasoned business professional, he has served in multiple leadership capacities within the international trade/maritime industry, yet got his start as a one-time aide & protégé to the late Honorable M. Athalie Range – the “Political Matriarch of the State of Florida.
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