$31M agricultural product export facility coming to Port Milwaukee

A $31 million agricultural product export facility is coming to Jones Island.

The facility, to be located on 3.8 acres on the west side of the island, is being funded partly by a $15.9 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s maritime administration.

Construction of the facility is expected to begin in August 2021 with completion around June 2023.

Port Milwaukee, in coordination with Clinton-based DeLong Co., an exporter of containerized agricultural products, will redevelop an underutilized area on the island to create what officials say will be the first and only intermodal bulk export agricultural transload facility in the Great Lakes region.

Additional funding will come from the port ($4.3 million), DeLong ($6.2 million) and a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation ($4.9 million).

Once the facility is operational, DeLong estimates initially exporting at least $40 million worth of agricultural goods, annually, overseas via Port Milwaukee.

“This investment adds a new dimension to Port Milwaukee’s role as a connector of Wisconsin’s businesses and farmers to world markets,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in a statement released by the city. “Waterborne commerce is what established Milwaukee and fueled its growth. The Port’s new agricultural export facility will serve regional customers for decades to come, and we are very appreciative of the federal government’s partnership.”

Tonnage through Port Milwaukee was up 24% in 2019 to 2.66 million tons. In 2018, 2.39 million tons of cargo passed through the port, down from 2.57 million tons in 2017.

In 2018, tonnage through the port generated more than $100 million in revenue for businesses that are directly dependent upon the cargo handled there.

The last time the port surpassed 3 million tons was 2014, when it recorded 3.02 million tons. Tonnage dipped in 2015 to 2.7 million tons and again in 2016 to 2.4 million tons.

Nick Williams, Milwaukee Business Journal

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