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First ship arrives at the Port of Indiana

The BBC Mont Blanc was the first ship to arrive at the Port of Indiana for the 2017 season. It carried a load of wind turbine tower sections destined for Decatur, Illinois, and arrived at the port in mid-April.

Shipments rose 7.7 percent last year at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, which helped set a three-year cargo record for the second straight year.

Steel shipments grew 38 percent last year to the deepwater port on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Portage and Burns Harbor, while large dimensional cargoes increased by 27 percent.

That included the most valuable shipment to ever pass through an Indiana part: the ICARUS liquid argon particle hunter that was shipped from Switzerland to the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, last summer.

Overall, the Ports of Indiana handled 11.8 million tons of cargo in 2017. It was a five person increase over the previous year and the second highest amount in the ports' 57-year history. 

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It was also the fourth straight year the Ports of Indiana handled more than 10 million tons, a 50 percent increase over the previous four-year period.

"Ports of Indiana experienced a historic year and we look forward to extending our growth spurt in 2018," CEO Rich Cooper said. "The arrival of world-class companies like Metro Ports and POSCO Steel in 2017, combined with unprecedented shipping levels at Mount Vernon and the development of major expansions at Jeffersonville and Burns Harbor, have the Ports of Indiana well positioned to help drive long-term future growth of Indiana businesses and our state economy."

A major expansion is planned at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, which will get federal funds to build two new rail yards, a new shipping berth, a truck marshalling yard and a new cargo terminal for transfers between ships, barges, rail cars, and trucks.

"Investing in our infrastructure is critical to the ports' ongoing growth," Ports of Indiana Vice President Jody Peacock said. "Developing new cargo terminals, unit train capabilities and intermodal facilities are required to maintain a modern port system that provides our customers with access to global markets and a sustainable competitive advantage. All three of our ports also became 'fiber ready' in 2017, and we're continuing to look for ways our ports can add value for existing businesses and attract new multimodal companies to Indiana."

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.