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Democrats Urge Reinstated Maritime Assistance Program Funding

June 21, 2023
Michele Grim News

COLUMBUS—Today, State Representatives Michele Grim (D-Toledo), Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood), Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), and State Senator Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) hosted a press conference to urge legislative leaders to reinstate funding for Ohio’s Maritime Assistance Program in the state budget during conference committee.

“The Maritime Assistance Program has been very successful since its establishment in 2020,” said Rep. Grim. “The program has allowed ports to secure $150 million in matching federal funds to support billions of dollars in private investment and thousands of jobs. If this funding is not restored, then another port in another state will receive these funds. The MAP is integral to improving Ohio’s maritime commerce and economy. Let’s not abandon it and allow opportunities to pass Ohio by.”

“We have seen an incredible amount of investment and economic development in Ohio after the Maritime Assistance Program was first enacted,” said Rep. Skindell. “We must restore this funding in the current operating budget in order to stay in competition with surrounding states, who are putting significant dollars towards their maritime ports.”

“These dollars are critically important to maintain, upgrade, and repair our maritime infrastructure across our state,” said Leader Antonio. “Reinstating the funding for the Ohio Maritime Assistance Program will ensure the Port of Cleveland maintains its economic vitality and status as the third largest port on the Great Lakes and continue to provide over $3.5 billion in annual economic activity to Northeast Ohio.”

“The Senate’s shortsighted removal of funding for the Maritime Assistance Program is a detriment not only to Ohio communities along Lake Erie, but also our state’s economic growth and development as an international trade partner,” said Sen. Hicks-Hudson. “Today’s press conference sends a clear message to the conference committee that this funding needs to be reinstated.”

The bipartisan operating budget passed by the House included $40 million for the program, but this funding was eliminated in the budget passed by the Senate. Representatives Grim and Skindell sponsored the amendment funding the Maritime Assistance Program in the House. Today, they were joined by Representatives Elgin Rogers, Jr. (D-Toledo), Elliot Forhan (D-South Euclid) and Sean Brennan (D-Parma) to discuss how continuing the program will help to sustain and create new jobs and investment.

The Maritime Assistance Program is an established program of the Ohio Department of Transportation that provides funding to port authorities for projects that benefit maritime transportation. The program has been used to support billions of dollars in private investment creating thousands of temporary construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs in Toledo and Cleveland with the Cleveland-Cliffs projects.

Watch the full press conference here.