Peters Announces Port of Monroe Awarded $770,983 Grant to Help Upgrade Cargo Screening Infrastructure

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today announced the Port of Monroe has been awarded a $770,983 Port Security Grant from the Department of Homeland Security to help upgrade their cargo screening infrastructure. The funding will allow the port to install a Radiation Portal Monitor, which helps to screen cargo for the presence of nuclear or radiological materials. This will enhance the port’s ability to ensure that incoming cargo is safe and secure, boost operations, and could expand their capabilities to provide increased cargo service throughout the Great Lakes region.

“Congratulations to Director Paul LaMarre and the Port of Monroe on receiving this vital funding. The Port of Monroe serves as an indispensable resource to manufacturers in Michigan and across the Great Lakes region. This critical investment will help the port grow and deliver the products that businesses and families rely on each day,” said Senator Peters. “This funding, which will help the Port of Monroe ensure shipments are safe and secure, is an important step to aid their efforts to expand, begin accepting additional types of cargo, and support jobs and grow the economy in Southeast Michigan. I’ll continue fighting to put Michigan ports on a level playing field so we can ensure our state remains a hub for international commerce.”

“The receipt of this critical grant funding confirms that the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard, and FEMA are aligned and supportive to promote the safe, efficient, and secure movement of containerized cargo through the Port of Monroe. Senator Peters’ unrelenting fight to ensure the Port’s continued growth and economic importance to our region has never been more evident,” said Paul LaMarre, Director of the Port of Monroe. “As Senate Homeland Security Chairman, Senator Peters is ensuring that vital security funding is making it home to Michigan in support of expanded economic opportunities. This grant places the Port of Monroe in full compliance with the SAFE Port Act and in turn, should allow U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to fulfill their mission of enhancing our nation’s economic prosperity.”

In his role on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has supported funding for the Port Security Grant Program and has fought to support Michigan’s ports, especially the Port of Monroe, and ensure they receive fair treatment. A bipartisan measure coauthored by Peters was signed into law requiring federal officials to assess all ports of entry, including finding ways to reduce wait times for passengers and cargo at the border. Peters also repeatedly pressed U.S. Customs and Border Protection on why the Port of Monroe is being held to standards that are not applied to other ports in the region. Peters also recently published an op-ed, outlining the importance of making sure the economic competitiveness of Michigan and other Great Lakes states is not being undercut by unfair policies or practices. Peters also helped secure a $1.1 million federal grant for the Port of Monroe to expand its maritime commerce



Port of Monroe earns another award

The local port has once again received the Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award, a recognition given to domestic shipping industry leaders by the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.

Regulations and shifting industry demands haven’t turned the tide against the Port of Monroe.

The local port has once again received the Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award, a recognition given to domestic shipping industry leaders by the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.

The award was for 2019 shipping season, which saw some of the port’s most diverse cargo handlings, said director Paul LaMarre III.

“To be one of the ports to receive this award. I feel an immense sense of pride ...” LaMarre said. “I am proud of the relationships we have built, the vessels that have touched our dock ... and the men and women who breathe life into our facility.”

The Pacesetter is given to American ports along the St. Lawrence Seaway that increase their international tonnage compared to the previous year.

This is the fifth time in seven years that the port has received the award. It also was recognized for its 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018 shipping seasons.

The streak shows how far the port has come in recent years, according to LaMarre. He has led efforts to attract more international business since he came to the port in 2012.

Before then, the port had not handled international cargo since the 1960s, he said. He credits the growth to partnerships with Spliethoff and Big Lift, international shipping businesses, and the work of its terminal operator, DRM Terminal Services.

“In 2012, the Port of Monroe was an overgrown industrial site,” LaMarre said. “Today, it is one of the most prosperous seaports on the Great Lakes.”

The 2019 shipping season was the most active for the port when it came to handling international vessels, according to LaMarre.

What was most notable about it was the port’s reach, including routes that touched Egypt, the Netherlands, Peru and Canada, he added.

The last season saw the Happy Ranger call on the port to deliver a new stator to Fermi 2 nuclear power plant, boasting one of the heaviest and most valuable shipments to travel the seaway, LaMarre said.

After the Happy Ranger delivered the stator from the Netherlands, it then turned around and loaded wind tower segments from Ventower, which were delivered to Peru.

“It was sheer logistics perfection ... it extended our community’s reach on a global scale,” LaMarre said. “It’s proof positive that our port and its partners are making our mark on global logistics.”

Other international vessels handled liquid asphalt and salt, which accounted for the largest increase in tonnage.

“You can move countless specialized components, but nothing equals the volume of bulk cargo and the tonnage that generates,” LaMarre said.

The other ports to receive the designation are the Port of Chicago; the Duluth Seaway Port Authority in Minnesota; the Port of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and the Port of Oswego Authority, New York.

SLSDC’s Deputy Administrator Craig Middlebrook congratulated this year’s award recipients in a press statement.

“The dedicated team of professionals at our ports work hard to move increasing amounts of cargo safely and efficiently,” he said.

Despite a slow start to the shipping season because of the impact of COVID-19, LaMarre said the port is on track to receive the award again next year.

“The award is a testament to our growth and resilience,” LaMarre said. “We have had countless challenges — it is the resilience of the port’s team ... that made this possible.”