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New tool helps communities put a value on their port

Flickr user Larry Myhre
Alpena Harbor Light

A statewide collaborative is working to create a new tool to help lakeside communities improve their ports. The Michigan Port Collaborative is sharing software with smaller ports to show the economic value ports have to local communities and to the state.


Donald Gilmet is the Harbor Official for the City of Alpena and a board member of the Michigan Port Collaborative. He said the data gained from the new value reports will give communities the information they need to access funding.


“You will be able to put in there what you think the port brings in for you based on some of the guidelines that he is going to be able to provide. So that each community will be able to get a very accurate picture of what does that water mean to us in an economic and financial sense”.


Gilmet said the value of smaller ports can be hard to gauge. That makes the return on investment also difficult to measure and so government agencies can be hesitant to invest.


He said if ports can’t obtain dredge funds the cost to ship goods from the port increases, because ships can't load as much cargo, and communities fear this might entice businesses to move to towns with larger ports.


“You may not see the community disappear but you can see it be reduced in size because there’s a lot of jobs created by mines and factories and people working on those ships. And they all have to call someplace home”.