Port of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Site Development

The Port of Green Bay in Wisconsin has received funding to expand onto the site of a former power plant; the transformation includes the removal of coal piles and other items left from the power plant, and ships will be able to both load and unload cargo at the new port.

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Photo shows an aerial view of the harbor with an expanse of green grass and trees, flanked by bodies of water on both sides
A view of the industrial harbor from Duluth, Minnesota, to Superior, Wisconsin, on June 30, 2018; the Port of Green Bay's expansion will allow international shipping to directly access the Midwest. (Getty/Michael Siluk)
  • Project name: Port of Green Bay Site Development Project
  • Program: Port Infrastructure Development
  • Law: Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

  • Recipient: Port of Green Bay

  • Investment amount: $10,134,800

  • City: Green Bay

  • State: Wisconsin

  • Congressional districts: 8

  • Construction start date: 2023
  • Jobs created: 20 expected

This profile is part of a project that finds and tracks the public and private sector investments generated or supported by three of the Biden administration’s economic laws. These laws make investments in the American people, helping to grow the middle class, lowering the cost of living, and setting up America to better compete and cooperate in the world. Pulling directly from several sources, this catalog provides users with publicly available information such as the number of jobs created, workforce training partnerships, and storytellers benefiting from particular projects, among other detailed information. The profile below expands on the economic, practical, and climate impacts of just one of the 35,000 investments that can be found in the Biden Administration Investment Tracker. It may be updated to account for future project developments.

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The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has awarded the Port of Green Bay $10,134,800 to convert the site of a former power plant to a multiuse port. This port will be able to support multiple ships both loading and unloading bulk cargo. The construction will create jobs, with the first phase of redevelopment being more tedious due to the necessary removal of coal piles and construction of new dock walls.

Historical context

  • The Port of Green Bay allows international shipping to directly access the Midwest: “The Port of Green Bay is the western-most port of Lake Michigan offering a direct route for shipping raw goods and materials using the most cost effective and sustainable method of transportation available. An extensive network of highways and railroads provide a direct connection from the Port to regional markets and America’s Heartland. There are 14 port businesses located along three miles of the Fox River. These businesses move more than two million tons of cargo on more than 200 ships each year.” – Port of Green Bay, last accessed August 9, 2023
  • The port sits on a river, connected to rail and near an interstate highway: “‘We’re in a location where you’ve got the river with a boat, you’ve got a rail line that’s connecting to it, and you’ve got the interstate highway half a mile away. That kind of inter-connection does not occur very much any more. Most of those sites have already been developed at some point in the past. And this one is a brand new one. So, [it] certainly will have an impact on the economy in this area,’ says Mark Walter, Business Development Manager, Brown County Port & Resource Recovery.” – WBAY, October 28, 2022

Project summary

  • The project will include clearing an existing brownfield site, constructing new docks, repairing rail spurs, and conducting other improvements: “The Project funds the first phase of redevelopment of a former power plant site into a new port terminal. The Project includes the following components: engineering services; clearing and clean-up of the existing brownfield site; construction of new dock walls and bulkheads; dredging; placement of fill behind dock wall and bulkheads; construction of stormwater collection and treatment facilities; installation of bollards and crane pads; asphalt resurfacing; new roads and utilities; truck scales; construction of an office building; and repair and extension of a rail spur with installation of three switches.” – U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration, October 28, 2022

Outcomes, improvements, and practical impact

  • “An engineering firm is working to design a 40-acre state-of-the-art port facility to allow for more bulk cargo. That includes removal of the coal piles, new dock walls, dredging, filling the old slip, a rail spur and stormwater management features.” – WBAY, October 28, 2022

Climate impact

  • The project will help convert a former coal plant site into a cleaner riverfront property: “It also captured a lot of community attention because it could help Green Bay and Brown County relocate the coal piles site out of the central city, a decades-old dream.” – Green Bay Press-Gazette, May 25, 2023
  • The coal piles have been a public health concern for decades, with residents on both sides of the river having to deal with coal dust from the piles: “‘There’s coal dust in the air, coal dust on our home, there is coal dust on my car. I can wipe my finger on my car and I have coal dust on it every summer,’ said Emilie Heil, who lives near the piles and is a board member of the Astor neighborhood association. ‘People are breathing that in and I think that’s a pretty valid concern.’” – Spectrum News 1, January 6, 2021

Racial equity and justice impact

  • Half the residents near the coal pile are people of color: “In 2018, residents living near the coal piles had Green Bay’s highest concentration of poverty. Half the residents were people of color and one third were under 18. That year average property values within a half mile of the piles were 65 percent lower than the overall city.” – Wisconsin Public Radio, October 28, 2022 

Economic impact

  • Expanding the port could generate $87 million in additional economic activity in the first five years after completion: “The port expansion project would convert the former power plant site into a multifunction port terminal, a facility where ships can load and unload cargo. The county also plans to sell some of the Pulliam site to GLC Minerals for it to expand and add more jobs. The expansion project could increase the port’s economic activity by $87 million in the first five years after it is completed.” – Green Bay Press-Gazette, May 25, 2023
  • The redevelopment is expected to create at least 20 jobs: “Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) was among the supporters of the grant. She says the redevelopment will have an estimated economic impact of more than $87 million in the first five years. It is expected to create 20 jobs.” – WBAY, October 28, 2022
  • “‘This is great news for the Port and our regional economy,’ said Port Director Dean Haen. ‘This new port facility at the mouth of the Fox River will generate jobs and economic activity that will be transformational for Green Bay and Northeast Wisconsin.’” – WBAY, October 28, 2022

Official supporting statements

  • U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI): “The redevelopment also presents an opportunity for the Port of Green Bay to move additional cargo using a variety of modes of transportation. … With the site’s location adjacent to rail, highway and water transportation facilities, the project has the potential to provide intermodal connections that are not found in other areas of the state.” – Wisconsin Public Radio, October 28, 2022
  • Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich (D): “The relocation of these coal piles is really going to be transformational. … Not just for our downtown and our riverfront, but also for the neighborhoods that are immediately adjacent.” – Wisconsin Public Radio, October 28, 2022 

Selected clips

  • “Buttigieg: ‘It’s about time’ federal funds approved for Port of Green Bay expansion” – Green Bay Press-Gazette, May 25, 2023
  • “U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visits Green Bay” – NBC 26, May 24, 2023

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