Business Xpansion Journal

    Strategic Border Gateway: City of Port Colborne

     The City of Port Colborne, Ontario, is located in the Niagara region of the province, located at the southern terminus where the Welland Canal opens up into Lake Erie. The canal is a key part of the St. Lawrence Seaway System. "Any vessel that passes from the Atlantic Ocean through Lake Ontario and into the upper Great Lakes needs to pass right through our community," says Stephen Thompson, general manager, Port Colborne Economic Development Tourism Corp.


     The port is managed by the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., and the City of Port Colborne manages other assets. The port provides several strategic advantages. It is within 20 minutes of the border crossing at Buffalo, N.Y., and 30 minutes from the border crossing at Niagara Falls, N.Y. What's more, Toronto is located just an hour away from the city.


     The port offers a niche in the movement of bulk goods such as aggregates and grains. A public grain elevator acts as a storage facility and intermediary location to move bulk product from smaller ships to larger ships.


     Thompson says Casco, Inc., a biotech company that provides a product derived from corn to food companies and others, has its own private dock. It can bring ships into the canal during the three month shut down, from January to mid to late March, "which creates other unique opportunities for our port and our community," he says.


     Ships come in during the winter months for routine maintenance, ship repair and ship building activities. "We are able to support these activities because of our strong manufacturing base, particularly in fabricated metals," Thompson says.


     The port also features a short-line rail connection, which continues to expand, and which is run by the city. A private rail operator, located adjacent to the community, offers rail service into the port and a number of its private facilities. This rail line connects directly to both the Canadian National and the Canadian Pacific main lines.


     Thompson notes ongoing activities include building and enhancing warehouse and distribution space at the port. A couple of facilities are nearing completion, which range in size from 50,000 to 100,000 square feet. The facilities can be divided, if needed. "We are also working with the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. to bring more land to market along the Welland Canal," Thompson says.