Chain Reaction: Ports of Indiana see record shipments, despite supply chain issues

Chain Reaction: Ports of Indiana see record shipments, despite supply chain issues

PORTAGE, Ind. ---- It’s no secret that supply chain issues are backing up major ports like in Long Beach, California, delaying shipments for businesses, restaurants and more.

But what’s happening at the Ports of Indiana? Just an hour drive from South Bend, the hub has actually managed to dodge any major impacts of supply chain delays.

Ports of Indiana serves steel, agriculture, manufacturing and construction through a three port system with locations on Lake Michigan and the Ohio River. 

The Burns Harbor port sees millions of tons of cargo each year. It's mostly steel exports. 

"We put through in 2021 3,400,000 tons of cargo which was a record for this port," Ryan McCoy said, Director of the Burns Harbor port.

2021, despite headline supply chain issues, was a record year for the Ports of Indiana.

Between all three ports, more than 11 million tons of cargo was handled. That's a 34% increase from 2020.

McCoy said those numbers reflect Indiana getting back to normal after COVID lockdowns and a year of quarantining.

"So, we did not see the impacts of the supply chain like the coastal ports. You know our infrastructure was here and ready for all the challenges that the supply chain brought to us."

Supply chain issues impacting consumer goods are largely imported ones coming through California ports and east coast ports. Midwestern ports like Burns Harbor weathered the storm.

Challenges affecting the Indiana ports are mostly workforce related with trucking and other labor shortages felt across the country.

"I wish I had the answer to the supply chain issues across America. I know the part that we can play in the supply chain and that it that is the expansion that we are planning here.” McCoy said.

With the help of a federal grant, a 20-million-dollar expansion is planned for the Ports of Indiana to increase their handling capacities and capabilities. Construction has already started.

"Our ports ready and willing to help with the supply chain in any way that we can. I would challenge all of our communities to figure out how they can use the Ports of Indiana to better supply themselves, become a bigger part of their supply chain where they’re seeing challenges in their supply chain,” McCoy said.

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