Jackie Q. Carter took office as the City of Milwaukee’s new municipal port director in late February. She was tapped for the role by Mayor Cavalier Johnson, following the resignation of Adam Tindall-Schlicht, who assumed a White House appointment late last year as administrator of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. Serving 15 years with the City of Milwaukee, including the past five as the port’s finance and administration officer, Carter takes the helm amid rising tides, with the nearly complete $40 million DeLong Co. agricultural maritime export facility and increased Great Lakes cruise activity at the port. Carter, the first woman and person of color to serve in the role, recently spoke to BizTimes Milwaukee associate editor Maredithe Meyer about her priorities for Port Milwaukee.
Continued cruise ship momentum
“One of the things we’ve been working on – and we’ve gotten the final piece of funding for – is building that South Shore Cruise Dock south of Jones Island. Right behind the Lake Express Ferry, there’s a parcel of land that has a deep-water draft that we need for some of the larger ships, like Viking. We have some cruise ships that are able to dock on the south face of that terminal, but we have to do work on the infrastructure to be able to use the east face. So that’s one of the things that we’ll be doing is making space for, not just Viking who is already docking at Port Milwaukee, but for some of the newer ships that are being built for the Great Lakes, so that they know this is a place where we have the infrastructure, we have the teams in place, we have the resources. Milwaukee is very excited to welcome cruise passengers, so the businesses are on board and all the different community partners that we work with are excited to help us market Milwaukee.”
Grant funding remains key
“Port Milwaukee has been very successful in acquiring grants to support some of our work, our infrastructure needs. The city supports us through the capital program, but the way we try to leverage the dollars the city gives us is through grants, and so being strategic about how we use those and what we apply for, and also being mindful − now with so many opportunities for our tenants and partners to be eligible for some of those funds − working with them to make sure they’re going after those opportunities as well.”
On the port’s role as a ‘connector’
“The thing that I really want to focus on is building on what we’ve already done. The port has done a lot of things really well, so of course making sure that our resources are being used as effectively as we can, but also connecting with businesses. The port has gotten a lot of press around cruising, there’s been press around my appointment, press around the DeLong agricultural facility, and so building on that and using that to make sure businesses in the region are aware of what we’re able to do and then connecting with them to see if there’s a space where we can support them. That’s really what the port exists to do, to be a connector for businesses and customers, getting regional products to international markets and getting products needed in the region from the international markets. That’s what the focus is going to be – making sure people understand why we exist, what we’re able to offer and looking for ways to partner.”