With unanimous approval of a new ground lease by commissioners this morning, longtime Port tenant Columbia Grain, Inc. will continue to grow export volumes at its Terminal 5 facility for at least another 25 years. Columbia Grain is a leading world grain exporter located in Portland since 1978.
“We are excited to extend our Terminal 5 ground lease, and this would not be possible without the Port of Portland’s leadership and advocacy to deepen the Columbia River channel from 40 to 43 feet,” said Tom Hammond, CEO of Columbia Grain. “In addition, the Port, BNSF Railway, Union Pacific and Columbia Grain have and will make significant investments in rail and facility expansion to insure that Terminal 5 remains competitive in the future.”
Columbia Grain owns and operates 61 grain elevators in six western states with a combined storage capacity of 1.3 million metric tons. The company purchases wheat, corn and soybeans from over 5,000 producers and merchandises this grain to all major U.S. domestic markets and thirty foreign countries. Columbia’s annual handling volume is approximately 9 million tons per year. The 43-acre facility at Terminal 5 is the company’s primary gateway for export shipments.
As a Port tenant, Columbia Grain has spent approximately $18 million on capital improvements, technological upgrades and facility enhancements. Columbia Grain plans expansion within 30 months to meet customer demand and will improve the existing grain elevator by constructing new storage, cleaning, transporting and inventory management systems inside the leasehold. The terminal expansion investment is approximately $40 million.
Since the days of the wheat fleet in the mid-1800s, grain exports have been a major part of Portland’s history and growth as a trade gateway. Today, grain remains the top cargo type handled by tonnage, comprising approximately 35% of the Port’s 13.4 million tons handled in 2011. Portland is the largest wheat export gateway in the nation and third largest grain export region in the world.