Indiana’s ports had one of their best years ever in 2016, moving nearly 11.3 million tons of cargo.
That included rising grain and coal exports, the kind that could see major changes under Trump administration trade reforms.
Indiana’s three ports – on the Ohio River in Jeffersonville and Mount Vernon, and on Lake Michigan at Burns Harbor – have handled 34 million tons of cargo since 2014. Ports of Indiana spokesman Rich Allen says that’s the best three-year total in the ports’ 55-year history.
“It’s a major economic engine for the state of Indiana, and most people don’t even know they exist,” Allen says.
The ports are also a big part of Indiana’s export economy. Most of their cargo is considered domestic, but Allen says a lot of it goes to Gulf of Mexico ports, such as New Orleans.
From there, a domestic grain shipment from Indiana might end up on a larger ship heading somewhere like Japan.
“Technically, that other terminal would get credit for the exporting,” Allen says. “We get credit as a domestic shipment.”
Allen declined to comment directly on how trade reforms in President Donald Trump’s agenda might affect Indiana’s ports.
In general, container ships move 90 percent of world exports. And Indiana’s ports, with rail and truck connections, also link the Midwest to Canada and Mexico.