Port collaborative opens

ROGERS CITY – A large group of Moran Iron Works employees gathered at the Port of Calcite Thursday, along with numerous local officials and business leaders, to celebrate the grand opening of the Port Calcite Collaborative.

The event was planned to celebrate the purchase of a 440-ton crane to use at the Port of Calcite, as well as the official opening of the public-private partnership that created a public, deep-water port. Geri Ganske, Moran chief operating officer, and owner Tom Moran toasted everyone who made the port a reality, from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to the state and local officials.

“When the task of acquiring the crane was undertaken, we promised ourselves that as soon as we had the crane we would take a few minutes and celebrate with every one of our employees, because after all, it’s through the dedication and hard work of every one of us that the launch into the future is made possible,” Ganske said.

The Port Calcite Collaborative’s mission statement is to connect the talent, resources and productivity of Northeast Michigan, Moran said. Of the many he thanked, he singled out Carmeuse Lime and Stone’s Calcite Plant Manager Ray LeClair for helping to make the port collaborative happen. Moran had been trying to start something similar for many years, with no success. When he reached out to LeClair, the plant manager worked to clear the way for the public port to be developed on land leased from Carmeuse.

Moran also had special thanks for Lydia Murray, MEDC business development manager. She helped the company create a high-wire corridor it uses to ship metal fabrications between its plant near Onaway and the port itself. Without the corridor, the collaborative would likely have never come about.

Murray said she was happy to help, adding that Moran and the collaborative represented what the MEDC is all about: creating more and better jobs in Michigan.

Moran said the new crane, built by Manitowoc Cranes, is “millions of dollars of American-made product.” It’s already loaded tens of millions of dollars in product, and in its lifetime, it will load more than $1 billion onto barges to be taken to ports throughout the Great Lakes and beyond.

Rogers City Mayor Beach Hall said that while the podium he stood behind said “Onaway Pride,” the port was pride for Rogers City, the county, the region and the state.

“I think all of us are tremendously proud of you folks … it certainly is a milestone on the way to a dream that started a long, long time ago,” he said. “The high-wire corridor, I guess I was one of those people who said, ‘Gee, what’s it’s going to be used for?’ Now I know, and when you meet one of those things on the road, you really know.”

Afterward, Moran said the event was about letting the world know that Northeast Michigan is open for business. The collaborative will help create jobs in the region, not just at the port itself but anywhere along the high-wire corridor.

For more information about the port collaborative, visit www.portcalcite.com.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.