Thursday, May 20, 2010

Steel Firm to Locate at Vancouver USA Port

The Washington state Port of Vancouver announced Wednesday that it plans to sell 22 acres of port property to Farwest Steel Corporation, a deal that could see the development of a major steel processing and distribution facility on the site and bring more than 225 industrial jobs to the area.

Under the terms of the deal, the Eugene, Oregon-based Farwest would pay the port just under $5.1 million for the parcel and spend between $20 million and $30 million to develop the facility. Farwest plans to take advantage of the port's rail access and the new facility, when completed, is expected to receive 200 to 300 rail cars a year.

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire congratulated the port commission on attracting what she described as a new significant employer in Southwest Washington.

“The residents of Clark County have been looking for hopeful signs that the economy is improving,” the Governor said. “Farwest brings family-wage jobs to Clark County, where the unemployment rate is highest in the state, and these jobs are needed most.”

The 54-year-old Farwest, which claims to be one of the leading distributors, processors and fabricators of steel products in the Northwest, currently operates facilities in California, Idaho, Utah and Washington. Officials from the firm said they hope to consolidate some of Farwest's existing operations in Vancouver.

“We have been looking long and hard throughout the region for a location that best suits our ability to grow and efficiently deliver quality products to our customers,” said Patrick Eagen, president and CEO of Farwest. “The port had industrial land ready to build, with the right river, road and rail connections – this is the best choice for us.”

According to Farwest officials, approximately 100 jobs will be relocated to the port, with future plans to add an additional 125. Farwest officials project that the average wage of workers at the Vancouver facility will be $40,000 a year.

The port's governing board plans to declare the 22-acre parcel as surplus – a move that will require a public hearing prior to any sale. Port officials said the port commission is considering strict terms for the sale, including a minimum job requirement at the new facility and a repurchase clause in the event Farwest defaults on delivering projected jobs.

The port commission has set Tuesday, June 8 at 9:30 a.m. for the date of the public meeting where two items will be considered: the move to surplus the port parcel and the sale agreement to Farwest.