Cleveland Port secures $32+ million for modernization and sustainability

CLEVELAND, February 8, 2024 – The Port of Cleveland took a significant stride toward the future as its board approved the allocation of more than $32 million in federal and state grants to help rehabilitate and modernize a key warehouse and upgrade electrical infrastructure at its General Cargo Terminal. This strategic move will ensure ongoing efficiency of Port facilities and prepare the Port for upcoming electrification efforts. 

William Friedman, Port president and CEO, said the investments were critical to successful port operations as well as sustainability.  

“These initiatives stand as a testament to our commitment to sustainable practices,” Friedman said.  “True environmental stewardship requires translating words into meaningful, concrete actions.  

Through these measures approved today, we are actively decarbonizing and forging a path toward a greener and more sustainable future.” 

The undertaking is part of a broader investment of $93.8 million in Port infrastructure since 2015, with more than 75% of it covered by state and federal grants. Aligned with the Port’s recently implemented Climate Action Plan, the overarching goal is to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, making Cleveland the first Great Lakes port to adopt such an ambitious plan. 

The grants for these projects include:

  • $27.2 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program to improve safety, efficiency and reliability of movement in and around the Port.  
  • $4.9 million from the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Maritime Assistance Program for projects enhancing efficiency and capacity of cargo terminal operations.

The funds will be allocated toward:

  • Comprehensive rehabilitation and modernization of the terminal’s largest warehouse, Warehouse A, including structural steel repairs, a new overhead crane, window replacements, new concrete slab, updated lighting and a new roof. Friedman said Warehouse A, over 50 years old, can’t accommodate evolving technology the Port needs for successful operations.
  • Development of an Electrification Master Plan and installation of new terminal electric feed in collaboration with Cleveland Public Power, which has been an integral partner in providing technical expertise and planning for sufficient capacity for the Port’s electrification goals. 

Friedman highlighted the importance of the new electric distribution hub, which will lay the foundation for future electrification efforts, including cargo handling equipment, charging stations, switching locomotives, ships when docked at the Port, mobile harbor cranes and potential solar arrays on the warehouse roofs. 

  • Stormwater collection and treatment infrastructure to ensure the quality of stormwater discharging into Lake Erie, building resiliency to climate change impacts such as increased storm intensity and heavy rainfalls.  
  • Construction of a new learning center for students from Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Davis Aviation & Maritime High School.
  • Reconstruction of two smaller buildings on the terminal as warehouse annexes, opening cargo traveling lanes and freeing up additional cargo laydown space.

To begin executing this ambitious project, the Port board also authorized an engineering design contract with Jacobs Engineering Group for the project. Jacobs was selected through a competitive process.

The Port received letters of support for the federal funds from Sen. Sherrod Brown and Reps. David Joyce, Shontel Brown and Marcy Kaptur and former U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan.

Sen. Brown wrote in a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg: “The Port is an economic engine for the community, a key to Northeast Ohio’s global competitiveness and a partner in building the region’s future. This project will work to increase the port’s efficiency in cargo movement with much needed improvements around the warehouse. It will also enable a more energy efficient warehouse, which will help greatly decrease carbon emissions.”

Board Chair J. Stefan Holmes expressed sincere appreciation to both the U.S. and Ohio Departments of Transportation for their generous grants and their recognition of the vital significance of the ongoing projects at the Port. "It is through collaborative partnerships such as these that we can fortify our position for sustained success in the years ahead," he emphasized.

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Port Approves Up to $6 million in bonds for Grand River Walk Project in Painesville

Cleveland – Dec. 14, 2023— The Port of Cleveland Board of Directors has approved the issuance of up to $6 million of bonds to help finance the more than $33 million Grand River Walk, a project which will transform and revitalize downtown Painesville.

The project is expected to include a five-story mixed-use building with 120 residential units, 18,760 square feet of ground floor retail space and 69 covered parking spaces. On December 4, Painesville City Council voted on the finalization of a Cooperative Agreement to facilitate the urban redevelopment tax incremental financing (TIF), which has already been approved by the local school district. The Port of Cleveland will enter into a Cooperative Agreement with the Lake County Ohio Port and Economic Development Authority to use its bond fund to facilitate the project financing.

“We are thankful for the help from the Port, Painesville City Council and the Painesville City Local Schools Board” said Michael Vidmar, Director of Acquisitions for Marous Development Group. “This is a critical piece of the financial package needed to make this large development happen. Lake County is home for our company, so this transformational project is particularly important for us.”

“The Port is happy to use our bond fund to monetize the TIF and help with the financing for Grand River Walk,’’ said Rhonda Winslow, Vice President of Development Finance for the Port of Cleveland. “We believe this project will help spur further investment in downtown Painesville.”

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Port Approves Capital Lease Incentive for Fairfax Neighborhood Apartment Project

Cleveland – Dec. 14, 2023— The Port of Cleveland Board of Directors has approved the issuance of up to $6 million of bonds to help finance construction of the first modern, market rate rental development in the central part of Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood.

The $10.5 million 89th Rising Housing Development is planned by a company founded by Timothy L. Tramble Sr., president of We Rise Development and a resident of the Fairfax neighborhood. Tramble is also president and CEO of the Saint Luke’s Foundation and has more than 20 years of community development experience.

The project’s first phase will include 48 one-bedroom and two-bedroom market rate rental units along East 89th Street between Cedar and Quincy avenues. The apartments will be in 6 large structures designed to give the appearance of the rambling Victorian houses that once anchored the street. They will have large porches, gables, turrets and variegated facades. Construction is expected to start in early 2024.

“My wife and I built our home in Fairfax in the mid-1990s,’’ said Tramble. “My career interests, efforts, and accomplishments have centered revitalization of disinvested, low-wealth neighborhoods of Cleveland. Our street is in need of revitalization, so as a vested stakeholder I am using my skills to effectively address the vacancy and blight. The assistance from the Port’s capital lease program will help our company do just that.”

“The Port is happy to partner with We Rise Development on this project,’’ said Rhonda Winslow, Vice President of Development Finance for the Port of Cleveland. “This project is a great addition to the Fairfax neighborhood and a great complement to projects the Port has assisted with in the neighborhood over the last few years.”

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Challenges, Delays Lead to Pause on Lake Erie Wind Turbine Project

Cleveland – December 8, 2023 — Citing considerable challenges and increased costs resulting from years of delays and obstacles, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo) board of directors made the difficult decision to temporarily halt the Icebreaker Wind project.  This innovative project, consisting of six wind turbines, was planned to be located eight miles off Cleveland’s shoreline.  

The board is exploring various avenues that might allow the project to move forward in the future.  

“We join with many civic leaders, businesses and environmental organizations in being disappointed in having to suspend this project,” said Will Friedman, LEEDCo board member and president & CEO of the Port of Cleveland.  “This pause is necessitated by a confluence of adverse circumstances and numerous delays resulting in a financial climate where the project’s commercial viability is in question.”

The project’s development efforts began around 2009.  Since that time, it received approvals from numerous local, state and federal agencies.  But there were significant regulatory and legal hurdles.  

Specifically, LEEDCo pointed to a project killing condition by the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) which significantly impeded the project by mandating that Icebreaker cease operations in the evening, making it financially untenable.  The State’s own experts testified under oath the shutdown mandate wasn’t needed. This provision was ultimately reversed, but the lengthy delay significantly dimmed prospects for advancing the project.  

Friedman emphasized that LEEDCo invested great amounts of time reviewing any potential impact on birds.  Siting Board staff determined after 18 months of extensive study and review that with certain conditions, Icebreaker Wind “serves the public interest” and poses “minimal adverse environmental impact.” After thorough review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated the project poses “limited direct risk” to migratory birds.  And many environmental groups have endorsed Icebreaker, including the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Ohio Environmental Council.   

Additionally, Icebreaker Wind faced frivolous and costly lawsuits funded by dark money tied to fossil fuel interests. This burdensome litigation caused years of delays and significant expense.  The delays have led to a constrained economics for the project: 

  • Higher interest rates have driven up financing costs.  General inflation and global circumstances have significantly increased capital costs, especially for materials like steel, making offshore wind particularly susceptible to economic fluctuations.  While LEEDCo is a small non-profit, other projects being pursued by the world’s leading offshore wind developers, with government support, are being stalled by similar factors.  
  • LEEDCo’s private development partner, which was to construct and operate the project, ceased financial support for Icebreaker due to the numerous obstacles presented.  Friedman said LEEDCO is open to the possibility of other developer-owners taking over the project.
  • LEEDCo and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy have mutually agreed to terminate a funding award given the delays and the practical inability to meet the Department’s award milestones.  While this award has terminated, the federal government continues to prioritize offshore wind and there might be future opportunities for funding.  

LEEDCo Board Chair Ronn Richard, who was central in conceiving the project, said Northeast Ohio was poised to be a leader in innovation with this potential first of its kind offshore wind project in North American fresh water. 

Richard said the community’s efforts have not been in vain.  “LEEDCo has conducted extensive, expert research about the environmental sustainability of offshore wind, laying the groundwork for future projects,” he said. “We have sparked a meaningful community conversation about the potential offshore wind can provide and the importance of renewable energy. “  

Richard noted many companies in Northeast Ohio and throughout the state have set ambitious renewable targets, underscoring the need for clean energy.  

“I maintain my belief that – just as Ohio was the first in flight – the day will come when Ohio will be a leader in advanced energy.  I am disappointed by this pause on Icebreaker, but I believe that there will be a significant number of offshore wind turbines in the Great Lakes in my lifetime. Climate change will necessitate it,” Richard added.  

Chris Tavenor, associate general counsel for the Ohio Environmental Council, also is optimistic. 

“LEEDCo was ahead of its time when it proposed the Icebreaker Wind Project, the first freshwater offshore wind farm in North America. This innovative project has persevered through significant legal and regulatory challenges that in some cases were funded by the fossil fuel industry,” he said. “For decades, the Ohio Environmental Council has worked to grow Ohio’s renewable energy future by advocating for smart investments that provide Ohioans with clean, affordable energy. That includes the Icebreaker Wind Project, with its potential to reduce carbon emissions and inject millions into the local economy. While we are disappointed by the temporary pause of this innovative clean energy project, we remain optimistic about the potential of offshore wind for Ohio and other Great Lakes states.” 

The LEEDCo board extended its thanks to multiple partners including local and state elected officials who were advocates, environmental groups, labor organizations and others who were staunch advocates.  

About Icebreaker Wind

Icebreaker Wind was anticipated to create over 500 jobs and pump $253 million into the region’s economy.  Ohio already has the largest wind energy manufacturing base of any state in the US, according to the American Wind Energy Association.  More than 275 manufacturing companies had expressed interest in being part of the project.  

The project received approvals from agencies including the Ohio EPA, the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and the Ohio Power Siting Board.  The U.S. Department of Energy conducted an Environmental Assessment and issued a Finding of No Significant Impact.

Eight miles from shore, the proposed turbines would not be visible on most days. On a clear day, a person standing on the downtown Cleveland lakeshore holding their arm out would have seen turbines no taller than half a thumbnail.   The small project would have only occupied .000002% of Lake Erie’s surface area. 

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VP Engineering & Capital Development

Position Description

Position Title: VP Engineering & Capital Development

FLSA Category: Salary 

Current Rate: Competitive; based on experience.

Position Objectives

The Port (“Port”) of Cleveland is seeking a licensed Professional Engineer to join our small but highly impactful organization. The Port is an economic engine for the greater Cleveland region, overseeing maritime commerce that generates $4.7 billion in annual economic activity and more than 22,000 jobs. The Port is a leading hub for international and Great Lakes shipping, averaging 12 million tons per year across Port docks and through private terminals in Cleveland Harbor. The Port also leads major shoreline infrastructure projects in Cleveland to maintain and enhance navigation, public access, coastal resiliency, and the ecological health of Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River. Beyond maritime shipping and infrastructure, the Port plays a key role in economic development generally as the region’s leading provider of bond financing for real estate development projects of all kinds. 

Summary of Duties, Responsibilities, and Skills:

The Vice President, Engineering and Capital Development reports directly to the President and CEO and has a wide scope of responsibilities, as described below. The Port employs only one professional engineer, requiring outsourcing of certain planning and engineering projects and tasks. Selecting service providers and managing them effectively is a key component of the job. This position currently has one direct report, the Senior Manager, Planning, Environment, and Information Systems.

  • Leading capital projects undertaken by the Port. The Port is amidst a major modernization of facilities to better serve Port users, accommodate growth, and advance the Port’s recently adopted Climate Action Plan to reach net-zero carbon by 2050.  This position must lead and manage all aspects of this capital program including planning, design, bidding and award, and management of active construction projects through close-out.
  • Leading planning for the Port’s Capital Improvement Program. This 5-year plan must be refreshed at least annually for budgetary purposes and to ensure that the Port has adequate time to secure funding and regulatory approvals for projects. Planning is conducted collaboratively with the senior management team of the Port but is the primary responsibility of the VP, Engineering and Capital Development
  • Leading the Port’s dredge material management operations, including extensive Beneficial Use of sediments. The Port has assumed responsibility for providing dredge processing capacity and permanent storage for sediments dredged from the Cuyahoga River federal channel twice per year by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This operation is, therefore, critical for maintaining navigation on the ship channel up to the steel mill complex at the head of navigation. This Port’s dredge processing operation must always be ready for the upcoming dredge cycles, and effective planning and collaboration with numerous service providers and other governmental entities is required.
  • Participating as an active member of the Port’s senior management team. It is expected that this position will regularly contribute to strategic and business planning and analyses; public policy analyses; communication and representation with outside parties; responding to urgent issues on short notice, such as damage to Port property and malfunctioning equipment.

Qualifications:

  • Must be a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Ohio or seek and obtain Ohio licensure within one year if currently licensed in another State; Civil engineering discipline preferred but others such as Environmental or Naval Architecture & Marine will be considered.
  • Must have at least 8 years of experience as a Project Manager, Director or higher level with an engineering consulting firm, government agency or in private industry.
  • Port and maritime industry experience strongly preferred but may be substituted by sufficient experience in other civil engineering fields with relevancy to the port environment.
  • Must have significant experience managing civil works construction projects or major components of large, complex projects. Experience with marine infrastructure, coastal projects, and dredging preferred but not required.
  • Prefer experience working within or on behalf of public agencies, particularly experience with public bidding of design and construction work and management of construction projects under the laws and regulations pertaining to construction work by public agencies.
  • Experience with the design and construction of marine structures such as docks, wharves, bulkheads, berms and embankments, cargo handling systems and surfaces is strongly preferred. Experience with roads, bridges, cargo storage structures, ship to shore cranes, landside cargo handling equipment, rail trackage, storm water management systems, electrification and decarbonization will be considered relevant.
  • Knowledge and experience with dredging operations and dredged material management techniques is strongly preferred. Ability to successfully lead and oversee the design, construction and operation of dredged sediment processing and storage facilities is required.
  • Experience negotiating contracts and agreements common to engineering consulting and design work and construction is required. Must also be able to formulate and negotiate business terms for service contracts such as site operator for dredged sediment facility and others.
  • Experience with environmental planning and engineering principles is preferred.
  • Familiarity with marine terminal operations and management a plus.
  • Familiarity with asset management programs and software is preferred.
  • Excellent communications skills are required including the ability to write clearly and succinctly and speak effectively in public settings. Experience presenting technical information to non-technical audiences is preferred, especially presenting to governing boards, executive management teams, elected officials, and the public.

Leadership Qualities and Work Style

The Port is seeking an individual with a Servant Leadership approach that fits the culture and expectations at the Port. The Port is a fast-paced work environment that embodies the best of the private and public sectors. This position requires working independently with limited supervision while also being an effective collaborator and team member. Creative thinking and problem-solving skills are a must. The Port is a small organization where management and senior leaders all have a wide span of responsibilities and duties, which can sometimes overlap and change quickly. Excellent communication skills and adaptability are required to succeed in this environment.

The selected candidate is also expected to occasionally work in inclement field conditions and perform work that might be considered below the job grade if needed. Port employees are public officials who must always adhere to the rules and regulations of the Port and the State of Ohio that pertain to public employment. The highest standards of professional ethics and integrity must always be maintained.

The Port’s goal is to have a workforce that reflects the diversity in our community to the maximum extent possible. Candidates with diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Interested candidates can submit a resume and cover letter to melisa.freilino@portofcleveland.com no later than COB December 8, 2023.


Tata Steel a key business and decarbonization partner for Port

Tata Steel and the Port of Cleveland recently both took part in the Green Shipping Corridor Network’s first working group session at the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, DC.

The focus is track emissions within the Great Lakes Seaway System as it drives towards decarbonization aspirations. Tata is the Port of Cleveland’s largest steel importer and client at the general cargo terminal.

Kevin Tyszkiewicz, Tata’s North American Logistics and Operations Manager, said Tata is firmly committed to decarbonization, just as the Port of Cleveland is.

“When we we talk to our supply chain partners and our business partners, we have a vested interest in both us and them doing green initiatives. It’s not just the end goal that’s important, but how do you get there? You can’t wait for others to find a solution,” said Tyszkiewicz.

“We’ve been encouraged that the Port of Cleveland has taken a leadership position within the Great Lakes on climate initiatives.”

He noted that Tata has been importing to the U.S. for more than 60 years “and Cleveland is core to our business.”


Rhonda Winslow is Making it her Business to Help Development Projects Access Funding

Rhonda Winslow captain’s the Port’s business development work, and has been with the Port since 2012 and now serves as the Port’s Vice President of Development Finance.

Recently, Rhonda won the prestigious NAIOP President’s Award from the Northern Ohio Chapter. This award recognizes individuals who encourage and support development and the local real estate community.

Rhonda oversees the development finance program, including over $1.5 billion in outstanding bonds issued through the Port’s development finance group.

“Rhonda has shepherded dozens of revenue bond issuances by our Port Authority to closing,’’ said Will Friedman. “These projects have had a huge impact on our community. Rhonda is a consummate pro who works tirelessly behind the scenes helping projects access capital.”

She has worked extensively on numerous high-profile projects in and around Northeast Ohio, including two Amazon distribution centers, the Flats East Bank Development, the Lumen in Playhouse Square, the Intro in Ohio City, and the Sherwin-Williams headquarters.

She has been a board member of the Ohio Chapter of Women in Public Finance since January 2019.

Rhonda earned a master’s degree in business administration and bachelor’s in accounting from The University of Akron. She is a Certified Public Accountant.

Prior to joining the Port, she was with the professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Rhonda calls Shaker Heights home, where she resides with her husband and two children, ages 1 and 3.  In her free time, she’s an active volleyball player, a cyclist who explores the Towpath Trail and a fan of family outings to baseball games.  Despite her move from the neighborhood, Rhonda’s favorite dining spots are Tremont’s Grumpy’s and Rowley Inn.


Notice of Public Hearing of Adjustable Rate Educational Facilities Revenue and Refunding Bonds

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority is holding a public hearing to consider the approval of the issuance by the Port Authority of its Adjustable Rate Educational Facilities Revenue and Refunding Bonds. The public hearing will be held on Friday, November 3, 2023 at 10:30 a.m., in the office of the Port Authority located at 1100 West 9th Street, Suite 300, Cleveland, Ohio 44113.


Canadian Seaway strike threatens severe economic consequences; Port of Cleveland makes urgent call for federal intervention

Cleveland – October 25, 2023 – A labor strike by hundreds of Canadian workers along the St. Lawrence Seaway has, in effect, paralyzed a critical maritime trade route connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. Over 100 vessels remain stranded outside the Seaway system, unable to access it, and this backlog will worsen as the strike endures.

The dispute is between Canadian entities St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation and UNIFOR, the union representing its workforce. The striking workers walked off in a labor dispute three days ago, casting a shadow of uncertainty over the extensive economic activities that the St. Lawrence Seaway System supports in both Canada and the United States. This lifeline is not just pivotal for Cleveland but also for North America’s broader economy and transportation network. The strike threatens to disrupt the flow of crucial commodities, including steel for example.

The Port of Cleveland will feel the impact of the strike soon if the matter is not quickly resolved. Annually, the Seaway facilitates the movement of approximately 550,000 metric tons of cargo to and from the Port.

In response to this crisis, the Port of Cleveland has urgently dispatched a letter to the Canadian Ministers of Labor and Transportation, along with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, imploring them to promptly help resolve the labor impasse. (See attached letters)

Will Friedman, President and CEO of the Port of Cleveland, expressed deep concern.

“This shutdown is a matter of grave concern for us and numerous local businesses, given its substantial economic ramifications,” he wrote. “This vital waterway is the linchpin of trade and the movement of goods to and from Cleveland. The interruption is particularly disruptive, occurring just before the end-of-season cargoes are expected, and as winter approaches. The consequences include a halt in exports from Cleveland to overseas destinations, and end-of-year cargoes cannot reach businesses relying on them in Cleveland.

“The longer this stranglehold on commerce in and out of the Great Lakes persists, the more significant the consequences will be,” he continued. “It not only jeopardizes the operations of ships and cargoes but could result in substantial daily economic losses. Ultimately, it may negatively impact Port workers due to dwindling traffic, and severely impact local businesses.”

Friedman said the Port is anticipating several vessels this autumn with imports that are crucial to regional manufacturing, and the longer this crisis endures, it may lead to increased costs for consumers both locally and beyond.

“Much of the high grade imported steel that moves through the Port of Cleveland is destined for local businesses, where it is processed and/or made into products such as nuts, bolts, screws, food grade tin cans, battery casings, automobile parts, and appliances that consumers use daily,” Friedman added in the letter.

Immediate intervention is imperative to avert an escalating economic catastrophe, Friedman said.

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Port a leader in economic development with financial support for job creation projects

The Port has provided more than $5 billion for 164 projects dating back to 1993, the majority of those within the City of Cleveland.  Recent projects funded include: 

  • $32 million in bond financing for Roundstone Insurance’s new headquarters in Rocky River. This move aims to accommodate the company’s growth and attract local talent, with plans for a three-story building that can house 140 employees and potentially 100 more over the next five years. 
  • The Port is partnering with the Canton Hall of Fame Village (HOFV) Resort & Entertainment Company to refinance the former McKinley Grand Hotel, now a DoubleTree Hotel. This restructuring of the capital stack and refi is expected to save HOFV more than $5 million.  The bonds will be repaid through Tourism and Development District taxes collected at the hotel.
  • The Port provided $8 million in TIF bond fund financing for the renovation of the historic downtown Cleveland Renaissance hotel, which will be rebranded into The Cleveland Hotel when completed. The Port partnered with the Development Finance Authority of Summit County which also provided bond fund financing for the project.