Port's Success Spills Over to Community
by Editorial Board
The Daily News, December 6, 2009
At least one of this community's economic engines -- the Port of Longview -- has shown itself to be somewhat recession proof. The port took in $17.2 million in revenue through September. That's up 1.7 percent from the port's record total during the same period in 2008, according to Daily News business writer Erik Olson.
For all of 2008, the port took in a record $23.5 million.
The transport of wind-energy equipment provided a good part of port revenue over the past year, about 40 percent. Another big boost in revenue should come from shipments of wheat, barley and other grains once EGT Development completes the $200 million grain terminal it began constructing at the port this past summer.
The Port of Longview has made impressive gains in a year when ship traffic on the Columbia has fallen by almost a third. And even more impressive gains are on the horizon. It's not a matter of luck. It's taken vision, hard work and patience. The Washington Public Ports Association recognized the fine job port officials and commissioners are doing just a little more than a week ago, selecting the Port of Longview as its 2009 Port of the Year.
The Port of Longview was selected for the honor in large part for landing the grain terminal deal with Portland-based EGT Development and its partners, Bunge North America of St. Louis, Japan-based Itochu Corp. and Korean Shipper STX Pan Ocean. It's the kind of deal that brings significant, long-term business to the port and considerable economic benefits to the community.
The economic benefits already have begun to accrue. Construction of the grain terminal will bring some 200 jobs to the area over the next couple of years, according to Olson. EGT Development is paying the port about $11,200 per month during construction. Upon completion of the terminal, the port will receive about $384,000 in annual lease payments from EGT Development. The terminal will create about 50 permanent jobs at the port and an estimated 30 additional related jobs in the community.
Longview taxpayers also may catch a break. Port of Longview director Ken O'Hollaren told Olson that the added lease revenue might allow the port to eliminate its tax levy. That would put around $60 more per year in the pockets of the owner of a home valued at $150,000.
Credit port officials and commissioners for recognizing the potential of this grain terminal deal and for having the patience and determination to work three long years to secure it. Also, credit officials at all ports along the lower Columbia River for working tirelessly over nearly two decades to deepen the shipping channel between Astoria and Portland. Having the vision to undertake that channel-deepening project was critical to the success the Port of Longview now enjoys. Absent a shipping channel deep enough to accommodate bigger, deep-draft vessels, EGT Development would never have considered constructing a grain terminal here or at any other port on the river.
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