River barges, which haven’t called on the Port of Milwaukee since 1996, could be coming back, thanks to a change in federal regulations.
The new regulations, which became effective May 23, ease the regulatory requirements and reduce the costs for barges to transit on Lake Michigan between Chicago and Milwaukee, according to Kenneth Szallai, Milwaukee municipal port director.
During the mid-1990s barge traffic was the fastest growing segment of Port of Milwaukee business, Szallai said. Tonnage growth grew from zero to more than one-half million tons during a three-year period. River barges last made the transit to Milwaukee in 1996. A rebound of that barge traffic could now take place.
"The Coast Guard’s cooperation in getting the needed rule changes made was essential to resuming barge trade," Szallai said. "They worked with us over a two-year period to get this done."
Hopper barges are well-suited for transporting a wide variety of commodities and products, such as grain, scrap, steel, machinery, coal and animal feeds, Szallai said.
"The ability to connect directly with the nation’s inland waterway system adds a competitive pricing advantage for Wisconsin commerce, agriculture and manufacturing in both domestic and international markets," Szallai added.
"The Port of Milwaukee has gained the reputation for serving Milwaukee and Wisconsin shippers in innovative ways", said Daniel Steininger, president of the Milwaukee Board of Harbor Commissioners. "Establishing access for Wisconsin industry and agriculture to the inland waterway system opens new markets and will give our economy a competitive edge in getting goods to the markets we serve."
Tosa Chamber changes name
The Wauwatosa Area Chamber of Commerce has changed its name to the West Suburban Chamber of Commerce, reflecting the wider scope of focus of its members, said Stephen Smith, chamber president. "The majority of our members do business throughout the metropolitan area …, not just within the city of Wauwatosa," Smith said in a letter to chamber members. He noted that more than 30% of the chamber’s current membership is based outside Wauwatosa – a figure that is expanding.
The chamber, which has more than 500 members, had already been working with neighboring chambers, including those in West Allis and Brookfield.
launches Express Network
Milwaukee-area businesspeople who use the Internet in remote locations can now do so with a lot less frustration, via Verizon Wireless’s new Express Network.
Verizon Wireless is the first US wireless carrier to commercially introduce such a system, which allows data speeds up to 144 Kbps, with average throughput between 40 and 60 kbps – significantly higher than speeds formerly available, and comparable to what Internet users get using a dial-up service at home.
The system allows the quicker wireless access to the Internet via use of a laptop computer or certain hand-held devices (PDAs). The user can either use a cellphone, hooked up to the laptop or PDA, for the connection, or insert a connection card into the device.
"Now the excuse of wireless being too slow goes right out the window,’ said Bill Boehm of Verizon Wireless, noting that Verizon is working on a system that would accommodate data speeds of up to 2 megabits per second – a system that "will allow true use of multi-media" via wireless devices.
June 7, 2002 Small Business Times, Milwaukee