OSWEGO — A report that studied the impact of the Port of Oswego Authority shows the 2017 impact including $26.7 million in economic activity while supporting more than 200 jobs.
Officials applauded the effort while eyeing a brighter horizon through further expansion and larger projects in the near future.
“I’m happy, but I also want to do better,” said Acting Executive Director Bill Scriber. “That’s not only for the port but the community too. Our focus between this board and myself is to create a positive impact in the community over the next several years.”
The report also concluded the Port of Oswego helped generate $13.8 million in personal income and local consumption expenditures. Through the business it does, the port helps generate $5.8 million in federal and state tax revenue.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer praised the more than a million tons of cargo moving through the port on an annual basis and the economic impact that it has.
“The significant economic activity of the Port of Oswego is proof positive that the port remains a catalyst for the central New York economy,” said Schumer, D-NY. “I will continue to work side-by-side with Port of Oswego officials to ensure they have the resources needed to continue to grow for years to come.”
Scriber said during Monday’s Board of Directors meeting that revenue is up 1.4 percent this year compared to 2017, when the sale of a former Port-owned Price Chopper building was included on the books.
“We’ve stopped the decline and now we’re seeing positive numbers,” Scriber said, adding that the strong numbers wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of the board, employees and support from the local business community.
The local numbers were part of a larger report about the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway Navigation System. The study reports that in 2017, maritime commerce supported nearly 238,000 jobs and $35 billion in economic activity between the U.S. and Canada.
Scriber said currently pot ash, salt, bulk products, grain, aluminum and powdered concrete all come through the port on a regular basis — creating plenty of job opportunities for truckers, local businesses, steelworkers, marine pilots, farmers and other areas while doing so.
Board Member Francis Enwright, the newest member appointed to the board earlier this year, said the progress and future plans indicate to him that the port is moving in the right direction.
“My thought first is the port is getting its ducks in a row,” said Enwright. “When I look at some of the stuff that we’re going to have coming in, the economic impact is going to be huge. There will be more work coming through.”
Scriber said the next economic impact study — which is released every few years — would likely show even more of a local impact on “revenue, taxes and jobs for the community.” He noted comparing this report to the last report showed “sort of a standstill” in revenue and impact numbers.
Noting that soybean exports quadrupled from 15,000 metric tons to 60,000 this year, Scriber said that the port is aiming to increase that number to reach 100,000 by 2020.
A master plan for expansion and additional projects like the Army Corps of Engineers running a $4.3 million break wall contract out of the port are expected to continue the positive trend.
“We are at a point now where as we speak, a master plan is being developed for the port based upon all our plans,” said Scriber. “A master plan would give us a focus going forward.”
The board approved Monday to begin talks with a company overseeing operations that wants to run materials out of the port for a Galloo Island wind farm that is still in the planning stage.
A previous windmill project — Maple Ridge — was run out of the port and it nearly doubled jobs and led to nearly $1 million on the payroll with extra shifts needed.
The port is also expanding emphasis to not only on-site ventures, as Scriber noted the authority has spent roughly $218,000 this year to upgrade to a state of the art port-owned gas dock on Lock 8.
Enwright said planning for the future is helping the port with “aligning ourselves right now” with “big pushes in projects” expected in the next year or so.