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Maritime shipping contributes $30 billion per year to Indiana’s economy

Indiana ranks 12th nationally in maritime shipping, claims more than half of the U.S. Great Lakes maritime economy and has the country’s largest inland port 

Shipping on Lake Michigan and the Ohio River delivers an economic impact of more than $29.8 billion annually to Indiana’s economy and supports more than 158,000 jobs, according to a newly-released study. 

“Indiana’s growth and influence on America’s inland maritime transportation continues unabated,” said Governor Eric Holcomb. “The economic impacts of maritime shipping on Indiana’s economy are truly impressive, and they underscore the importance of the Great Lakes and Ohio River to our global reach. Our ports and waterways take Indiana to the world and bring the world to Indiana.”   

The study found that Indiana shipped 54.4 million tons of maritime cargo in 2022, providing $11.5 billion in personal income for 158,143 jobs, and $1.9 billion in tax dollars to state and local governments. The report was prepared by Martin Associates, an internationally recognized economic and transportation consulting firm, which has conducted more than 1,100 economic and planning studies for major ports in North America and internationally. Click here to view the economic impact study for Indiana’s maritime industry.  

“Indiana is home to a robust maritime economy with three state ports and more than 90 cargo terminals that ship critical cargoes around the world,” said Dr. John C. Martin, founder and president of Martin Associates. “The state’s maritime capabilities on Lake Michigan and the Ohio River provide essential connections to regional and international markets while also providing jobs and economic support for local communities.” 

According to data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Indiana ranks 12th nationally in maritime shipping. Martin’s regional analysis found that Indiana’s 43 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline is responsible for 57 percent of the U.S. Great Lakes shipping economy, and 42 percent of the combined U.S.-Canadian Great Lakes shipping economy.  

The Northern Indiana Port District ships 30.2 million tons per year, which ranks as the 20th largest port in the country and generates $16.6 billion in annual economic impacts.  

The Southern Indiana Port District, comprised of the 13 counties along Indiana’s 356 miles of Ohio River frontage, ships 24.2 million tons per year, which ranks No. 1 among all U.S. inland ports, and generates $13.3 billion in annual economic impacts. 

Martin Associates’ analysis included 143 interviews with Indiana-based maritime terminals, industrial tenants, and service providers. The firm also recently completed two separate economic studies related to Ports of Indiana’s three ports and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway ports.  

“Many people in the Midwest don’t realize how important maritime shipping is to our economy,” said Ports of Indiana CEO Jody Peacock. “For most industries, shipping cargo by water creates major economic, environmental, and public benefits. Because of Indiana’s unique waterway access, we can ship cargoes via the Great Lakes, inland rivers, and Gulf of Mexico directly to the Atlantic Ocean, which is a huge economic advantage.”