Credit Port Officials for
by Editorial Board
The Port of Longview has been the economic engine that just won't quit throughout this so-called Great Recession. Daily News business writer Erik Olson reported earlier this month that the port is on pace to double last year's total import and export tonnage. More than 1.5 million metric tons of cargo moved through the port in the first eight months of the year, easily doubling the amount of cargo handled during the first eight months of 2009.
It's not as if 2009 was a down year for the port. The recession may have been at its worst last year, but business was booming at the Port of Longview. The port took in more than $25 million last year, making 2009 a record-setting revenue year.
The port has shown itself to be recession proof, attracting new business even as the economy went south. This past summer, port commissioners signed a lease with New Jersey-based Skyline Steel to build a $9 million pipe fabrication facility. Olson reported that the contract will provide hundreds of construction jobs and, upon completion early next year, the plant will support 65 permanent, family wage jobs.
A bigger fish was landed by commissioners last year, when they inked an agreement with Portland-based EGT Development and its partners to construct a new $200 million grain elevator at the port. It's the kind of development that can be expected to bring significant, long-term business to the port and, in turn, considerable benefits to the community. Those benefits began to accrue with the start of construction a little more than a year ago. Work on the elevator has increased sales tax revenue, easing the county's budget woes a bit. County officials told Daily News reporter Barbara LaBoe that higher-than-expected sales tax revenue has improved the budget outlook, and the bulk of that increase in tax revenue has come from work at the port on the grain elevator and Berth 9.
This impressive growth in port business owes much to the vision and patience of port commissioners here and throughout the lower Columbia region. The 21-year-long channel-deepening project now nearing completion is critical to the future of all ports from Astoria to Portland. It would not have been successful without a determined and sustained push from port officials. And we can be sure that the grain elevator would not be under construction at the Port of Longview without the promise of the deeper shipping channel needed to accommodate the larger grain-carrying vessels.
The work of Port of Longview commissioners was recognized last December by the Washington Public Ports Association, which selected the Longview port as its 2009 Port of the Year. The honor was well-deserved. We think our port commissioners deserve to be in the running for another plaque this year.
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