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|Tuesday, June 04, 2013|
BY JIM CARTER | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
Since its earliest days, Oregon has been a center for trade. We can take great pride in the fact that we grow, create and assemble things here that we sell other places. Over the years, smart investments made in regional infrastructure — rivers, rails, runways and roads — have provided Oregon businesses with efficient and cost effective access to foreign markets. But it is time to up our game.
This fall the Portland City Council will make a decision that has statewide, if not national, implications for Oregon’s continued trade strength — the annexation of West Hayden Island.
Located in the Columbia River between the ports of Portland and Vancouver, the 800-acre parcel has easy access to two major transcontinental railroads and sits smack dab on the edge of a recently deepened international navigation channel and an upriver barge system. This vital east/west link carries agricultural products from Eastern Oregon and as many as 11 other states to markets in Asia, Central and South America, and Australia as well as emerging markets in India.
Ultimately, the Port of Portland would like to market a 300-acre portion of West Hayden Island for future marine terminals that would handle autos, grain and mineral bulks like potash used in fertilizers and soda ash used in the manufacture of glass. The bulk of the island (500 acres) would be preserved for natural resources and recreation.
Today, the Port of Portland is the U.S. West Coast’s largest mineral bulks port, the second largest auto import gateway and the third largest tonnage port, but our current facilities are nearly fully utilized. We are simply not in a position to attract new business without new sites. While actual development may be 7 to 10 years out, annexation will provide a planning and regulatory framework as well as more marketing certainty for a public asset the Port purchased 20 years ago. Site selectors for potential private investors looking to locate here will want development sites to be as shovel-ready as possible.
Allowing for industrial development on the island will also serve to leverage the public investments made in deepening the Columbia River navigation channel. The Washington ports of Kalama, Longview and Vancouver are already taking advantage of the deeper channel with new infrastructure investments totaling more than a half billion dollars.
In fact the owners of the new Longview terminal had originally looked at developable land in Portland, but existing parcels were insufficient for their needs.
Cargo on the river system has trended upward over the long run and, according to the Brookings Institution, Portland is one of four U.S. regions poised for export growth.
From peas, beans and lentils to computer components, Oregon products will increasingly need to move to markets around the globe efficiently and cost-effectively. West Hayden Island can play a vital role in accommodating that growth.
Last March, the other Port Commissioners and I approved a resolution that memorializes a shared vision between the Port and the City that maximizes both the potential for marine industrial development and the opportunity for natural resource mitigation and enhancement on the island. Both parts of the vision are essential.
According to a study conducted by EcoNorthwest in 2010, marine industrial development on the island could spawn anywhere from 2,300 to 3,600 direct, indirect and induced jobs generating a $198 to $240 million boost to annual state and local taxes which are so vital to the types of community services that are increasingly at risk for budget cuts.
On the natural resources side of the equation, the Port will invest more than $35 million in mitigation that will include designation of open space, improvement of habitat and creation of recreational amenities and we are committed to incorporating cutting edge “green” port technologies and sustainable design elements in any future development. In addition cargoes such as coal, natural gas and containers will be prohibited.
We think this is a very balanced approach. Bottom line, Portland needs to decide if it wants to continue its historic role as a facilitator of trade for our state or if it wants to let other states and regions move goods for us resulting in significantly greater transportation and environmental costs to Oregon businesses, Oregon workers and the community in general.
Equally important, development costs must not exceed market realities. Property that is rendered undevelopable in the marketplace due to extensive mitigation requirements and regulatory uncertainty is really not zoning the property for development at all.
My hope is that Portland City Council will not only do what is right for their city, but also what is right for the state of Oregon.
To learn more about this important topic go to:
Jim Carter is President of the Port of Portland Commission, a nine-member volunteer governing body whose members are appointed by the governor and approved by the state senate.
Editor's note: Oregon Business accepts op-ed columns on topics relevant to the state's business community. See op-ed submission guidelines here.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
Oregonians are scrambling to get their gardens in order for the summer. Here are three tips from landscaping and urban farming expert.
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
Leaders in Oregon's ag sector gathered this morning in Portland’s Coopers Hall winery/taproom to discuss the role of the region as an export gateway, impediments to exporting products and solutions to containerized shipping challenges.
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | Photos by Jason E. Kaplan
Pacific Seafood, one of the world’s largest processors, is rebranding as a more transparent and consumer-friendly operation. A controversial CEO and monopoly accusations from coastal fishermen complicate the tale.
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT
The Knight challenge is an important instance of philanthropy. But we should not assume it will magically transform OHSU into a business- and job-spinning engine for the local economy.
Wednesday, April 08, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
The Wilsonville-based company is targeting GoPro enthusiasts with its latest release. Is spy gear poised to go mainstream?
Friday, May 08, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
Hagfish may not have evolved much over the last 300 million years, but their protein-heavy slime promises advances in super-materials.
Friday, May 15, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR
The Portland Bureau of Transportation is seeking input from businesses on a $5.5 million initiative to create a network of biking, transit and pedestrian trails within Portland’s central city.
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