Local port generates $1 billion in 2016

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By Jamie Grabert

The Port of Mount Vernon boasted a near-record year in 2016 with over $1 billion with roughly 6.4 million tons of good moving through the local hub.

The Port of Indiana-Mount Vernon contributes over $1 billion in total economic activity per year and supports 7,200 total jobs. Port companies ship cargo to or from 44 states and 20 countries and the port currently has 600 acres available for development.

The Port of Indiana-Mount Vernon handled nearly 2.5 million tons of cargo during the fourth quarter of 2016 shattering the port’s previous quarterly record, set in the fourth quarter of 2014. The port’s 2016 fourth quarter volume was a 44 percent increase over the 2014 record and is the highest quarterly volume for any port in Ports of Indiana history.

For the 6.4 million tons of cargo handled by the port in 2016, here are the tonnage percentages by industry sector: agricultural – 31 percent; energy – 63 percent; and manufacturing/construction – 6 percent, according to Rich Allen, Communications Director for the Port of Indiana.   

“Coal shipments surged during the fourth quarter giving 2016 the highest annual coal tonnage in the port’s history,” said Port Director Phil Wilzbacher. “Alliance Coal seized an opportunity to ship coal from its Southern Indiana and Illinois mines through its port terminal to export markets, contributing significantly to the record fourth quarter.”

The port finished 2016 with 6.4 million tons, up 34 percent from its previous five-year average and its second highest annual tonnage following the record 6.6 million tons in 2015. Coal, grain, soy products, ethanol, dried distiller grains (DDGs), minerals and fertilizer were the principal cargoes in 2016. In addition, salt shipments were up 32 percent and talc and barite, two minerals used in the manufacturing of plastics and other products, were up a combined 23 percent.

“The tonnage records of the last two years must be credited to our entire group of port companies and the enduring efforts each continues to make in support of the agricultural, energy and manufacturing sectors,” added Wilzbacher.

The port handled approximately 3,300 barges, 140,000 trucks, and 40,000 railcars in 2016, and is part of the 6th largest inland port district in the U.S. The port serves an expansive geographic region including Southwest Indiana and the entire Evansville metropolitan area, Indiana’s third largest city.

“Besides the 12 companies located at the port, in 2016 more than 30 additional companies moved cargo through the port. Most used the port’s facilities to transload bulk cargoes between barges and trucks,” said Allen.

Port customers receive significant transportation cost advantages by being able to connect with five Class I railroads that serve all major U.S. markets and with barge lines that transload Indiana cargoes to and from ocean vessels in the Gulf of Mexico. Located only 153 miles from the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, the port connects the Midwest to the world with year-round access to 12,500 miles of inland waterways and the Gulf of Mexico.

Two port companies announced or completed major expansions in 2016. Consolidated Grain and Barge Co. announced it would invest more than $31 million to increase its soybean processing capabilities. CGB’s strategic port location allows for multiple logistics options, including inbound and outbound barge, rail and truck transportation. Roughly 60 percent of the facility’s volume is shipped via barge. Valero Renewable Fuels Co., a major Indiana producer of ethanol and a subsidiary of Valero Energy Corp., the 10th largest Fortune 500 Company in the U.S., completed a multi-million dollar project at the port that provided new corn receiving equipment and a new DDG dryer system.