Growth in Exports, New Development Emerge as Trends in Port’s Annual Results

Looking back at the Port of Portland’s maritime trade statistics and industrial development projects over the past year, two notable trends emerged: increased export activity and facility investment.


With the successful start of Ford vehicle exports to China and Korea, increased demand for mineral exports, investment in new ship loaders, and a $40 million expansion of Columbia Grain’s Terminal 5 grain facility, the outlook for increased export volume looks promising.


Today, Portland is one of the top auto handling ports in the U.S., the largest mineral export gateway on the U.S. West Coast and the largest wheat export hub in the U.S. With total throughput of nearly 12 million tons, and more than 500 ship calls, the 2013 volume totals are as follows: 

  • Autos (import/export) – 262,512, down 7.6%
  • Breakbulk (import) – 903,067, down 8.3%
  • Containers (import/export) – 178,451 TEU, down 2.6%
    • Import containers – 82,336 TEU, up 13.3%
    • Export containers – 96,115 TEU, down 11.5%
  • Grain (export) – 3,511,490 tons, down 12.7%
  • Minerals (exports) – 5,072,060, up 5.7%
  • Total tonnage – 11,937,580 tons, down 3.4% 

While tonnage was down slightly for the calendar year, the Port finished 2013 with one of the highest volume months in recent history with 1.3 million tons handled in December and posted fiscal year gains at the halfway point that bode well for the year ahead.


On the labor front, a jurisdictional dispute was resolved at the container terminal through direct involvement from Governor Kitzhaber. The Port and its terminal operator, ICTSI Oregon, await a pending decision by Hanjin Shipping on whether the carrier will continue to call Portland. Full import containers were up 13.3% in 2013.


On the landside, expansion projects, new construction and pending development projects at the Port’s marine terminals, industrial parks and other properties are yielding private investment, short and long term employment opportunities and economic benefits for the region.


The Port amended a lease agreement and worked closely with Business Oregon and Portland Development Commission to help land Daimler Trucks North America’s new headquarters project on Swan Island. It will house up to 1,200 employees and prompt an estimated $150 million in private investment to construct the building. The project will bring at least 350 new high salary jobs.


In Rivergate Industrial District, Archer Daniels Midland Company constructed a new sweetener terminal, and Ajinomoto North America added a 9,000 square foot consumer foods division office and a research and development center. At Portland International Center, the first phase of a three building, 833,360 square foot state-of-the-art logistics park is currently under construction.


Construction and expansion were also common themes at the marine terminals. This included removal of antiquated equipment, new road and rail enhancements, additional storage facilities to add capacity and new ship loaders to increase efficiency. Auto Warehousing Company also completed a $2.8 million project to expand its processing building. The building grew by 27,000 square feet and boosted capacity to more than 110,000 vehicles annually.


The Port continues to develop and market Troutdale Reynolds Industrial Park – home to a FedEx Ground regional distribution hub – and Gresham Vista Industrial Park. Gresham Vista joined Oregon’s Certified Industrial Lands program, and will be an eco-industrial district fostering sustainable design and operational practices. An 11,000-square-foot clinic for Fresenius Medical Care North America was the first new construction on one of the only commercially zoned lots.


The Port decided to withdraw its consent to annex West Hayden Island when it became clear that the City’s mitigation requirements were not proportionate to potential development impacts and would price any developable land out of the market. Despite this outcome, industrial land remains a critical part of the Port’s strategic plan.


As one of the largest industrial landowners in the state, the Port continues to make the best possible use of its existing properties and is committed to identifying sites to attract traded sector companies that sell goods and services internationally. To this end, the Port has also extended its service area for foreign trade zones through an alternative site framework to help attract more businesses to the area.


In addition to its offices in Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong and Taipei, the Port has expanded overseas representation in mainland China with offices in Shanghai and Tianjin. Agents in these Port offices are responsible for marketing and retention efforts by maintaining direct customer contact abroad.


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