The Port of Marinette. (Photo by US Army Corp of Engineers)
The Port of Marinette. (Photo by US Army Corp of Engineers)

Port of Marinette receives $29 million for shipbuilding facility, Port of Milwaukee gets $33 million for ag export center

The Port of Marinette and Port Milwaukee are each receiving multimillion-dollar grants that are expected to help make significant impacts on the local and state economies.

Marinette received $29 million to go toward a shipbuilding facility that will help shipbuilding company Fincantieri Marinette Marine be competitive in an upcoming bid for a contract to produce next-generation frigate-class ships for the U.S. Navy. 

Port Milwaukee, meanwhile, secured $4.9 million to go toward a $31.3 million agriculture export facility project.

The grants were awarded as part of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Harbor Assistance Program, which was established in 1979.

“Huge jobs,” Marinette Mayor Steve Genisot said when asked what the grant’s impact will be. 

If the Navy awards its upcoming multibillion-dollar contract to Marinette’s shipbuilders, Genisot said the city anticipates 1,000 additional jobs for 15 to 20 years. The port currently employs 1,500 full-time employees and an additional 1,000 subcontractors are there daily, Genisot said.

“For us, a community close to 11,000, that’s huge — upwards of 3,500 workers,” he said.

Port Milwaukee’s project will bring the first agricultural export facility of its kind to the Great Lakes, according to a press release. Dried distiller grains, a livestock feed and ethanol industry byproduct, will move through the facility. 

“In many ways, this supports the local agricultural economy in Wisconsin and supports the port’s operation,” said Port Milwaukee spokesman Jeff Fleming.

The DeLong Company, which is building the port facility, has plans to expand exports from the facility into other agricultural products in the future, Fleming said.

The exports will improve the port’s efficiency because it will give inbound ships delivering imports more product to take back with them.

Port Milwaukee currently contributes about $100 million annually to the local economy. Fleming said the new facility will allow for a “significant” increase in economic activity, but said it is too early for a definitive estimated impact.

“The ripple effect of this grant will be felt statewide,” Craig Thompson, DOT secretary-designee, said in a statement. “Wisconsin’s ports are major economic hubs generating thousands of jobs.”