Citing a growing demand for safe grain transport to Asia, backers of a $200 million grain terminal at the Port of Longview said Tuesday it fills a demand both at home and across the Pacific.
“We are one step closer to becoming a large player in the grain industry,” said Dan Buell, Port of Longview commissioner, at a ground-breaking ceremony at the 38-acre site.
“This area is vital for the food security of Japan,” said Hirofumi Murabayashi, a Portland-based consulate general of Japan.
About 200 people were at the ceremony, including a contingency from EGT Development LLC, the company formed to build the terminal, and a handful of delegates from Japan and South Korea.
EGT is a partnership among St. Louis-based Bunge North America, Japan-based Itochu Corp. and Korean shipper STX Pan Ocean. Once construction is complete in 2011, the company will be headquartered in Portland.
The project promises about 200 construction jobs over the next two years, but general contractor T.E. Ibberson Co. hasn’t yet determined from where they will come.
The Minnesota-based company received 44 bids from subcontractors within a 100-mile radius of Longview in the days after the port and EGT finalized the deal. The company could not confirm Tuesday how many local subcontractors have been hired, spokesman Gary Bennett said.
The uncertainty concerns local union officials, who said in interviews that people in the Southwest Washington need the work.
“We agree that it’s a great project, but we don’t want to be left out,” said Dave Myers, business manager for the Longview-based International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local 970.
“I’d hate to get left out of a $200 million project,” added Jeff Washburn, business agent for the Longview-based Plumbers and Steamfitters local 26.
The terminal will employ about 50 workers and add about 30 ancillary jobs to the local economy.
The port is also building a Berth 9 this fall to service the terminal. Port officials opened four bids today, and the apparent low bid of about $3 million was submitted by Astoria-based Bergerson Construction, port director Ken O’Hollaren said.
The grain terminal, the first of its kind built nationwide in 25 years, will offer the latest technology to ensure the safest and fastest transport, said Larry Clarke, EGT chief executive officer.
For example, up to four, 110-car trains can be unloaded at the terminal while still moving at a slow speed, Clarke said. Other grain terminals require trains to stop to unload, which gives an edge to the Longview site, he said.
“Being highly efficient is important.”