In the 1800s, Cleveland's waterfront was the epicenter of the national shipping industry. Our valuable water resources present Northeast Ohio's most meaningful opportunity to transition and turbocharge our economy.
Fresh water sets Cleveland apart from cities we are competing with globally for jobs. Other cities would love to have our lake or our riverfront. While other communities fret about having enough fresh water, we have all we need and more.
We can all drink to that, and further celebrate that the public and private sectors are pulling together to maximize the potential of Cleveland's waterfront — balancing increased public access and vital industrial uses. It's not a one-or-the-other proposition. An improved, publicly accessible waterfront will prime the pump for regional growth, and the economic impact of our port is undeniable. Nearly 22,000 jobs depend on port operations and shipping generates $4.7 billion in economic output annually.
The Port of Cleveland is taking ambitious steps to usher in a more prosperous "blue economy" for the region in collaboration with many partners. This includes:
The stewardship of our lake and river via green shipping: While waterborne shipping is the most environmentally friendly mode of transport, the industry is rapidly moving to further decarbonize. The U.S. and Canadian governments in November announced a Green Shipping Corridor Initiative for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, which will spur investment and innovation. We are already building the port of the future with a $27 million federal infrastructure grant awarded last year to achieve net-zero carbon operations. Our innovative dredge material management program reuses nearly 60% of the sediment dredged from navigation and harbor channels. Our green port within a green shipping system will help us to attract investment and win cargo. The cleaner our water, the better we can market it for jobs and recreational purposes.
Encouraging recreation and tourism: We are not simply an industrial port. We are very intentional about participating in a recreation and tourism economy. Cleveland has become a primary Great Lakes cruise ship destination. This year, we will see 53 cruise ship visits and approximately 10,000 passengers spending their money at local establishments and attractions.
The Port remains committed to finding opportunities to remake the water's edge into a natural habitat. We boldly imagined and eventually opened the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, a 90-acre urban refuge on Cleveland's East Side. On the Cuyahoga River, the Port is spearheading the $100 million stabilization and development of Irishtown Bend that will result in a new 25-acre park.