Many people don’t realize that Toledo is a major port for cargo ships traversing the Great Lakes. In fact, it is the largest port in the Great Lakes by land area and millions of tons of cargo passes through every year. In addition to the shipping business, there is a thriving dry dock repair facility.
Tony LaMantia operates one of the largest dry docks in the region. Every year, dozens of ships are repaired by a small army of union steel workers, boilermakers, machinists, electricians, and painters. “We’ve been building ships and repairing ships for a long time. We have a rich history of that here in Toledo,” LaMantia said to ABC Chanel 13 News. These high-paying jobs do not require a college degree, just a willingness to learn a trade.
Union workers provide the ship repair business with skilled labor to perform these complex projects in the short window available between shipping seasons. “These projects are typically $1.5 Million up to several million dollars. We do handle some smaller jobs for a few hundred thousand. It’s all done in a compressed time frame too, so the work is done in a 3-4 week time frame at most,” LaMantia reported.
Many stories have been written about the industrial decline of the Great Lakes, but there is still life – and good jobs – in these cities. Joe Cappel, Vice President of Business Development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, says about seven thousand jobs in the region are connected to the Port of Toledo, “That equals about one billion dollars in economic impact for the region.”