Transportation differentiates the Northland from most other regions because of its diverse options for low-cost transport services and easy access to foreign markets. Critical success factors include rail, a world port, aviation, and a strong highway network, all the result of millions of dollars of investment into regional infrastructure.
Four Class I railways link the region to all of North America. The Port of Duluth-Superior has high capacity cargo dock operations. There are three international airports that offer commercial passenger and cargo services, including Duluth. The highway and Interstate systems into and out of the area provide border-to-border shipment of goods.
Businesses in the Northland can take advantage of the region’s many transportation assets:
- The Port of Duluth-Superior is the most centrally located multi-modal transportation hub in North America. Located at the western most tip of Lake Superior, the Port anchors a 2,342-mile bi-national waterway – the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System – that connects the Northland to the Atlantic Ocean and world markets.
- The Port of Duluth-Superior is the largest tonnage port on the Great Lakes, moving an average of 37 million short tons of cargo annually.
- With 20 privately owned/operated bulk cargo docks and a general cargo terminal, this Port provides high-capacity, low-cost transport for everything from iron ore, coal, limestone, salt, cement and grain to heavy-lift and project cargoes crucial to the mining, construction, oil/gas production, wind energy, pulp/paper and power generation industries.
- The Duluth Seaway Port Authority is a public agency created by the Minnesota Legislature in 1955 to bring business to the Port and economic development to the region. The Port Authority owns/manages multiple waterfront properties, including the 120-acre Clure Public Marine Terminal, the Port’s only general cargo facility, plus a newly rehabbed 26-acre dock expansion and the Duluth Airpark—all properties that fall within its Foreign Trade Zone #54.
- The Duluth Port is one of six Customs Ports of Entry in the region. The others include the Grand Portage border crossing near Grand Portage, the International Bridge at International Falls, the rail crossing at Rainer, and the Sky Harbor and Duluth International airports in Duluth.
- Two Foreign Trade Zones service the Northland. FTZ No. 51 is managed by the Duluth Seaway Port Authority in Duluth, MN; FTZ No. 259 is managed by the Koochiching Economic Development Authority in International Falls and Ranier, MN.