Indiana ports see record shipments, despite supply chain issues

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

But what about Indiana ports? Just an hour’s drive from South Bend, the hub has actually managed to dodge any major impact from supply chain delays.

Indiana’s ports serve steel, agriculture, manufacturing, and construction through a three-port system with locations on Lake Michigan and the Ohio River.

The Port of Burns Harbor sees millions of tons of cargo each year. These are mainly steel exports.

“We moved 3,400,000 tonnes of cargo in 2021, which was a record for this port,” said Burns Harbor Port Manager Ryan McCoy.

2021, despite major supply chain issues, was a banner year for Indiana ports.

Between the three ports, more than 11 million tons of goods were handled. That’s a 34% increase from 2020.

McCoy said those numbers reflect Indiana’s return to normalcy after COVID lockdowns and a year of quarantine.

“So we didn’t see supply chain impacts like coastal ports. You know our infrastructure was there and ready to take on any challenges that supply chain brought to us.”

Supply chain issues affecting consumer goods are largely imported through California ports and East Coast ports. Midwestern ports like Burns Harbor weathered the storm.

The challenges affecting Indiana’s ports are primarily labor-related with trucking and other labor shortages felt across the country.

“I wish I had the answer to supply chain issues across America. I know the role we can play in supply chain and that’s the expansion we’re planning here.” said McCoy.

With the help of a federal grant, a $20 million expansion is planned for Indiana’s ports to increase their handling capacities and capabilities. Construction has already started.

“Our ports are ready and willing to help the supply chain in any way possible. I would challenge all of our communities to figure out how they can use Indiana’s ports to better supply themselves, become a bigger part of their supply chain where they see challenges in their supply chain,” said McCoy.

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