Friday, July 13, 2018

Agriculture Secretary Tours Port of Vancouver, USA

By Karen Robes Meeks

US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently visited the Port of Vancouver USA and met with local leaders as part of his Back to Our Roots Tour, which started July 2 in Spokane, Washington. Purdue toured the port’s grain terminal and a Tidewater Barge Lines tug and barge at the port’s Berth 4.

“From 465 miles inland into the United States, for our farmer-producers all the way in Idaho (to) ship out of this port…it’s a great advantage to America, really, to have this kind of infrastructure,” Perdue said.

About half of USA wheat that comes from inland farms travels the Columbia-Snake River System to international markets. The port alone handles 10 percent of the nation’s wheat annually and is the second-biggest steel importer on the U.S. West Coast.

Port-related activities are a significant financial generator for the region, accounting for 20,200 jobs and $2.9 billion in economic benefit.

“It was an honor to host Secretary Perdue at the Port of Vancouver and in our community,” said port CEO Julianna Marler. “We appreciated the opportunity to share the great work happening here on the Columbia River as well as some of our concerns about trade and agriculture, which are critical issues for communities and workers across Washington State.”

Everett Approves Infrastructure Contract

By Karen Robes Meeks

The final phase of upland public infrastructure within the Port of Everett’s Fisherman’s Harbor district of Waterfront Place will move forward, thanks to a $3.7 million agreement with Granite Construction.

The Port of Everett Commission recently approved the contract with Granite for building the new SE Millwright Loop and open spaces, which will allow for more road access from Fisherman’s Harbor to the Port’s Central Docks and the future Waterfront Place.

The project, set to start later this month, also calls for a new marina parking lot, a link from the new Fisherman's Harbor esplanade to the existing esplanade along the Central Docks’ north side, and a new public space between the future 142-room Hotel Indigo and the new Pacific Rim Plaza and splash fountain, according to the port.

Fisherman’s Harbor is expected to open in mid-2019.

“This is an exciting time for our community,” Port Commissioner Bruce Fingarson said. “By this time next year, the highly anticipated Fisherman’s Harbor will officially open for all to enjoy, providing access to the waterfront’s newest central gathering space at Pacific Rim Plaza, new lodging and dining at Hotel Indigo, and shortly thereafter, new housing and restaurant opportunities.”

Matson Earnings Up

By Karen Robes Meeks

Matson, Inc.’s Board of Directors recently announced a third quarter dividend of $0.21 per common share, which represents a one-cent (or five percent) increase over the dividend from the prior quarter.

“We are pleased to announce an increase to our quarterly dividend in the third quarter for the sixth consecutive year, underscoring our Board's confidence in the long-term prospects for our businesses and commitment to rewarding shareholders through dividends,” said Matt Cox, Matson's chairman and chief executive officer. “While we expect leverage to increase as our fleet and infrastructure investments in Hawaii progress, our healthy balance sheet, strong operating cash flows, and continued access to attractive financing sources provide ample capacity to fund the fleet renewal and related infrastructure, consider growth investments, and return capital to shareholders.”

The dividend will be allocated to all shareholders on September 6.

Oakland Budget Approved

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Oakland commissioners recently approved a $494.2 million spending plan for the 2019 fiscal year, including $34.7 million for capital projects.

The budget, which accounts for the port’s aviation, commercial real estate and maritime businesses, is about $40 million less than last fiscal year as 2018 spending plan included major improvement to the Oakland International Airport’s International Arrivals Building and renovation to the main runway.

The port plans to ask the commission for as much as $92 million in additional capital funding this year.

The Oakland port is a major economic force, supporting over 73,000 jobs in the region and close to 827,000 jobs throughout the country.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

New Grays Harbor Commissioner

By Karen Robes Meeks

Phil Papac has been chosen to take on the next Port of Grays Harbor District 1 Commission seat after Commissioner Chuck Caldwell vacates the post at the end of this month.

Commissioners Jack Thompson and Stan Pinnick made the selection at a special commission meeting held recently.

“It was great to see so many candidates passionate about the Port and the future of Grays Harbor apply,” Pinnick said. “We are excited to welcome Mr. Papac to the Board and feel his commitment, experience and abilities will be an asset to the Port and our community.”

A lifelong Montesano resident, Papac is a father of two and a longtime restaurant operator who served on the Montesano Parks Board for 20 years. He also co-chaired two successful school levies and is heavily involved in youth sports, including a 20-year career as a local basketball referee.

Papac is expected to be sworn in on August 14 and will serve the rest of Caldwell’s term, which will be up for election in November 2019. At that time, the position – a six-year term – will be up for grabs.

California Ports Seek Federal Oversight

By Karen Robes Meeks

At a recent Pacific Trade Association event, top leaders at the ports of Long Beach and Oakland said that government support is needed to continue efforts to grow the marine industry economically while being environmentally astute. “In California, we have the cleanest ports in the world,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle, who helmed Long Beach’s port before coming to Oakland. “But we could use help if we’re going to do more.”

Mario Cordero, former chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, echoed that sentiment. “We’ll be as successful as government support allows us to be,” he said.

Both spoke about individual efforts to lower emissions that stem from port operations and the investments being made to handle larger vessels and more cargo.

But federal policy could further assist these efforts, whether it’s nationwide clean air regulations to bring other ports up to par to California standards as Lytle suggested, or a national freight policy to prioritize port infrastructure as Cordero noted.

Everett Celebrates Port Centennial

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Everett is celebrating its centennial with a series of events and memorabilia.

The port, whose birthday is officially on Friday, July 13, has published a commemorative book that details its history through stories, illustrations and more than 300 photographs. Visit portofeverett.com/historybook for more details.

To kick-off the celebration, a mural depicting the port’s past, present and future is expected to be unveiled on Thursday, July 12, in the port’s Waterfront Center lobby near the entrance of Scuttlebutt restaurant. The mural, created by local artist Sherrill Hull, was made possible through a partnership with Economic Alliance Snohomish County and the port.

On Saturday, the port will host a day of festivities, starting with a breakfast and the inaugural Port Beat 5K Fun Run along the waterfront trail. The event will give the public an opportunity to peek at Fisherman’s Harbor and the new Pacific Rim Plaza and splash fountain.

Fill the afternoon with an historic bus tour and later in the day go to Boxcar Park to view the Maritime Parade and partake in the festivities hosted by One World Lantern Festival. A photo booth will be available, so visitors can commemorate the birthday. End the day by placing mementoes into a centennial time capsule that will be opened in 2068.

“Today, as we celebrate our centennial year, we would like to thank the early residents of the Port District for believing in the value that the Port of Everett would bring to the community so long ago,” Port of Everett Acting CEO Lisa Lefeber said. “Most importantly, we want to thank our current Port District residents for their continued appreciation and support of our work today. We encourage you to come out to enjoy your Port and celebrate with us. We have a lot of events planned around the waterfront for all to enjoy and have pulled together some great projects to commemorate our Port history.”

The complete schedule can be found at http://www.portofeverett.com/Home/ShowDocument?id=12833