Indiana’s Port Trio Plays Critical Role – BizVoice/Indiana Chamber – May/June 2011

Indiana's Port Trio

Did you know that more than half of Indiana’s boarder consists of water?

With that in mind, it should as less of a surprise — if at all — that shipping and the port system are an integral part of the transportation mix. With direct access to Lake Michigan (leading to the St. Lawrence Seaway for international access) and the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois rivers, Indiana’s ports contribute about $5.4 billion to the state’s economy each year, according to the Ports of Indiana, a quasi-governmental organization under the authority of the Indiana Port Commission.

Indiana has three major ports — Burns Harbor on Lake Michigan and Mount Vernon and Jeffersonville, both located on the Ohio River.

“Water transportation is generally the most efficient form of transportation. By having the ability to receive commodities by water, we’re able to provide services to companies who can get their product to us in an efficient “(manner),” remarks Dan Frick, COO of Frick Services, located in Burns Harbor.

Don Miller, president of the Mt. Vernon Barge Service, points to Indiana’s fortunate locations as part of the industry’s success.

“Indiana is buttoned up. We’re right in the heartland, connected to 22 states via the Inland Waterway System,” he explains. “The key is the seamless movement of cargo from the river to the truck and interstate. One thing this state has done very well is connecting their major port authorities to the interstate systems.”


Resources: Dan Frick, Frick Services, at

Don Miller, Mt Vernon Barge Service, at

Unique Shipping Challenges — No Matter the Location

“The largest challenge to the waterway system in particular is the ongoing maintenance and upgrading of the lock and dams on the Ohio River. Most are 60 to 70 years old and in drastic need of upkeep and expansion. People don’t think about ti every day, don’t see the delays associated with locks and dams being down. What happens when you have delays, it drastically increases the costs of grain and petroleum to the end customer.”

— Don miller, president of Mt. Vernon Barge Service, located in Mount Vernon on the Ohio River

“Currently we’re dealing with this issue that could potentially impact barge traffic coming from the Mississippi and Illinois rivers — the battle over Asian Carp, a fish that is considered to be a predatory fish. It’s a concern of the environmental community. …Their solution is to totally eliminate any barge movement and what they would like to do is reverse the water flow, so that the Asian Carp can’t swim into Lake Michigan. That would be a real problem if that happens. It’s something we watch very closely.”

— Dan Frick, COO of Frick Services, located in Burns Harbor on Lake Michigan

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