The Port of Bellingham and Ports America signed a new service contract allowing international cargo vessels to use the Bellingham Shipping Terminal. Ports America is the biggest terminal operator and stevedore in the United States, operating 80 terminals in 42 different ports and employing 12,000 people.
The contract between the two was negotiated after several of Ports America’s shipping customers requested use of the Port of Bellingham.
According to the terms of the contract, Ports America will have exclusive stevedore rights for international forest products, metal ingots, certain types of steel, modules, and oversized cargoes.
The Port is in the process of having the shipping terminal designated as a Foreign Trade Zone, which means that goods can be stored without paying import duties and taxes; much of the cargo would be stored in local warehouses before being shipped to their final destinations in Canada.
“This is a major turning point for the Bellingham Shipping Terminal,” said Port Commission President Ken Bell. “As the last Pacific Northwest seaport between the United States and Canada, it was only a matter of time before cargo operators recognized the Bellingham Shipping Terminal as a congestion-free alternative to the docks and terminals serving Vancouver and Seattle. Increased cargo activity at the Bellingham Shipping Terminal will create jobs and stimulate economic activity throughout Whatcom County.”
The location is attractive to shipping companies because of the access to inland roads and the 1,250 feet of deep-water dock space, 550’ barge pier, and 85,000-square-feet of covered storage. “There is a great deal favoring the Bellingham Shipping Terminal,” said Ports America Director of Breakbulk and Project Cargo Bart Goedhard.
“In addition to abundant berth space, warehouse and laydown space, the terminal is near major cities, has a dedicated truck corridor to I-5, and has close proximity to rail.”
Locals are hoping that the increased use of the shipping terminal will lead to more full-time jobs. “Ports America is a great stevedoring company that will bring work to Bellingham,” said Daren Williams, a spokesman for Local 7 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).
“There are many suppliers in Whatcom County who will benefit from increased cargo activity at the Bellingham Shipping Terminal, and the ILWU will create more full-time jobs as a result of this contract.” The Port’s three-year service contract with Ports America has options for two additional three-year terms.