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The union-crewed Walter J. McCarthy Jr makes its way along the Great Lakes.

A study released this month by a coalition of U.S. and Canadian shipping interests reveals that the economic impact of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system was responsible for more than 325,000 direct and indirect jobs covering both nations during 2017.

Conducted by Martin Associates of Lancaster, PA, the report – Economic Impacts of Maritime Shipping in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region – reviewed data collected from 40 U.S. and Canadian ports that was supplemented with interviews from more than 770 individual firms dealing in this market.

Besides looking at the whole waterways system from Lake Superior to the Atlantic Ocean, the researchers also broke down the economic impact on specific areas such as the Soo Locks and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Overall, Martin Associates reported the whole system was responsible for 328,543 U.S. and Canadian jobs, with 105,885 being directly related (such as mariners, stevedores, railroad workers, freight forwarders, shipping agents and others), generating almost $18 billion in total personal income and local consumption expenditures. A total of $9 billion in taxes were collected at the local, state/provincial and federal levels.

Looking specifically at the economic impact of the Soo Locks, the study revealed the locks supported 123,172 U.S. and Canadian jobs, with 39,765 being direct employment, generating $7.9 billion in wages and local consumption expenditures. Local, state, provincial and federal governments collected $3.8 billion in tax revenue.

As for the St. Lawrence Seaway (including the Welland Canal), it supported 92,661 U.S. and Canadian jobs, including 29,624 directly. Personal income and local consumption expenditures hit $4.9 billion. Activity in the Seaway provided $2.4 billion in taxes for local, state/provincial and federal governments.

Through its six Port Councils located along the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system in Quebec, Ontario, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois, the MTD maintains a steady watch on activities in the region. At last year’s MTD Convention, delegates called for upgrading the Soo Locks, improved dredging at ports along the Lakes and new icebreakers to assist navigation among other topics of concern.