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Port of Longview 'extremely busy,' aiming to retain customers next year
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Port of Longview 'extremely busy,' aiming to retain customers next year

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Industrial Rail Corridor

A piece of the Port of Longview's Industrial Rail Corridor is seen from the Fibre Way overpass on a cloudy day in December 2019.

Port of Longview commissioners heard Wednesday the port’s next year of business might be slower than this year’s as global supply chain pressures ease, but the port is working to retain some new customers.

“Next year we might not be blessed with the same amount of business, but our job when we get this business is try to keep them,” Director of Business Development Christian Clay said. “We’ll show them how economical it is to come here.”

Local ports feeling global supply chain ripple effects

Last year, the port brought in more revenue than expected, and is on track for similar gains this year.

The global supply chain bottleneck comes from a variety of factors, many related to the pandemic. As the pandemic hit, spending stopped and factories and transportation hubs scaled back. Then, consumer buying skyrocketed.

The brief pause disrupted the normally steady flow of containers around the world, leading to a shortage. Instead of coming in spaced out, vessels are arriving at West Coast ports in clusters, leading some to seek smaller ports to offload cargo. Longview has seen some of that business.

It is “extremely busy right now,” Clay said Wednesday, and the port is “using every single mode of transportation we can.”

Revenue higher than budgeted in first quarter for Port of Longview

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The port pulled in new business with its willingness to work with shipping companies and cargo owners to “get them solutions to their issues,” Clay said. With the Port of Grays Harbor’s crane out of commission due to a collapse, Longview also is picking up that business.

One more ship of wind turbine parts will come in this year, and the port already has four more wind projects lined up for next year, Clay said.

“We’re expecting a wind vessel a week all year,” he said.

However, after a difficult wheat growing season, the port also is forecasting moving about a million tons less wheat next year.

Port of Longview exceeds expected revenue despite pandemic

“There are less crops across the board,” Clay said. After a hot summer hit new crops hard, most wheat suppliers dipped into their reserves to meet market demand, meaning they many run out of supply next year.

With the high traffic the port is seeing, Clay said port labor has done “an excellent job for us.”

“We couldn’t ask for a better labor group,” he said. “We are tight on labor, but that’s a function of how busy the river is right now. “

In other business, the commission approved a five-year extension to its original 20-year lease with Brown Strauss, which was set to expire at the end of this year. Brown Strauss leases 15 acres and two buildings from the port.

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