The port of Duluth-Superior earned its second consecutive Pacesetter Award from the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. on Wednesday. The honor acknowledged an increase in international cargo tonnage during the 2019 shipping season.

The port of Duluth-Superior was one of five ports in the United States to earn the distinction. It was the record 17th Pacesetter for the local port since the awards started in 1992.

Four of Duluth-Superior’s six cargo categories posted season-over-season tonnage increases in 2019. General cargo, comprised of project cargoes, breakbulk and heavy-lift industrial pieces, led the way with a tenfold tonnage increase.

Wind energy cargo arrivals paced the surge, with Duluth Cargo Connect welcoming a single-season record 306,000 freight tons of wind energy components to the Clure Public Marine Terminal, a Duluth Seaway Port Authority news release said.

The Duluth Seaway Port Authority logo. (contributed photo)
The Duluth Seaway Port Authority logo. (contributed photo)

Grain, the port’s No. 1 export, also moved briskly in 2019. Paced by wheat shipments, grain tonnage posted a 20% increase over 2018 and a 12% improvement on the five-season average.

In total, the port of Duluth-Superior registered a 16% season-over-season increase in international tonnage shipped. Eighty-five overseas vessels visited during the 2019 shipping season, the most since 2010.

“On behalf of everyone in the port of Duluth-Superior, we’re pleased to accept this award, and especially excited about earning it in consecutive years, which reflects a sustained level of achievement, as the criterion is a season-over-season increase,” Deb DeLuca, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, said in the news release. “It’s a collaborative effort that makes the port of Duluth-Superior a thriving world port and we appreciate all of the numerous partners who play a role in that effort."

DeLuca noted the role of the working men and women throughout the port during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"These essential workers continue to ensure supply chain continuity every day," she said. "They are truly the port of Duluth-Superior’s backbone.”

The Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. established the Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award to recognize achievements of U.S. ports. In addition to the port of Duluth-Superior, other Pacesetters included the Illinois International Port District, the port of Green Bay, the port of Monroe, Michigan, and the port of Oswego, New York.