Story updated Thursday at 11 a.m.
Prior infrastructure investments helped make 2018 a record-breaking year at the Port of Grays Harbor, said Port Director Gary Nelson at the Port’s annual business review at the Rotary Log Pavilion in Aberdeen Wednesday morning.
“We have a great story to tell and great accomplishments to celebrate,” said Port Commission President Stan Pinnick.
Pinnick said 125 vessels landed at the Port in 2018, dealing 3 million metric tons of cargo. The Westport Marina ranked number one in the state for seafood landings, and 11th in the nation. The Satsop Business Park has added more than 400 jobs over the past few years with the addition of the Overstock call center and Fuller Hill marijuana grow operation.
“2018 was a bittersweet year,” said Nelson, talking about the economic successes, trade increase and growth in employment at Port facilities. He talked about the challenges faced during the year, with the retirement of longtime commissioner Chuck Caldwell last July and the sudden death of commissioner Jack Thompson a few months later. “Through the difficult times we are stronger because of their legacy,” said Nelson
Continued investment in infrastructure will lead to continued success for the Port, said Nelson.
“We recognize strategic investments in infrastructure created the opportunity for our partners’ success today,” said Nelson.
Future infrastructure improvements could include the East Aberdeen Mobility Project, which would improve the flow of vehicle and train traffic through the congested Gateway Plaza area, a project Nelson said should be a priority for the region. Road and utility improvements at the Satsop Business Park and road and facility improvements in Westport are also on the list, as well as a large drainage project at Bowerman Airport.
Deeper Draft completion
The Port also celebrated the completion of Phase II of Deeper Draft, the dredging project in the Grays Harbor shipping channel that allows Port tenants to call the facility their west coast hub.
The project to deepen the channel to 38 feet, which allows ships to carry more cargo into the Port’s marine terminals, took decades to realize, along with Congressional approval, the support of local legislators and county and city officials, and a strong working relationship between the Grays Harbor community and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Nelson introduced Col. Mark A. Geraldi, commander of the Seattle District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and John Hicks, Navigation Chief for the Corps, who described the lengthy and complicated series of events that had to take place over 40-some years to reach the completion milestone in December 2018.
The event ended with a ribbon-cutting featuring Port staff and leaders, the Army Corps of Engineers and the more than 100 in attendance to celebrate the completion of phase 2 of the project. Included were former commissioner Caldwell, Grays Harbor Commissioner Randy Ross, and PUD Commissioner Dave Timmons.