Ports’ growth continues

Published 10:15 pm Monday, April 10, 2017

Business is booming at the Port of Virginia.

Virginia Port Authority Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director John F. Reinhart stated in an April 10 press release that March was the fourth busiest month in the port’s history, with 9-percent growth compared to the same month last year.

A total of 131,800 cargo containers were moved at the Port this March, an increase of 11,281 compared to March 2016. The port moved 30,083 more containers this year from January to March 2017 compared to the same three-month period in 2016.

Email newsletter signup

“We are expecting volume to remain in positive territory as we move into spring and look forward to peak season,” Reinhart stated in the press release.

This growth comes as the port prepares for the arrival of the huge COSCO Development ship, which is scheduled to make its first United States East Coast port stop on May 8 at Virginia International Gateway in Portsmouth. COSCO Shipping is part of three new shipping alliances that began in March.

The ship is the biggest to ever call on the East Coast. An estimated 4,000 cargo containers will be moved to and from the ship, nearly triple the average moves per ship, according to the press release.

“The new ocean-carrier alliances will be fully operational this month, and we will be seeing more big ships, like the COSCO Development, moving considerable amounts of cargo,” Reinhart stated. “As these ships arrive, planning and preparation are going to be paramount to our efficiency.”

The expansion of the port is expected to attract investment in the region.

A second building in Suffolk’s Virginia Regional Commerce Park broke ground in October. Officials said the new 300,000-square-foot spec building — one constructed before a tenant has been lined up — is the first spec building to be built near the Port of Virginia in 10 years.

Ports users such as Sumitomo, ArtFX, Caspari, Best Brakes and Massimo Zanetti occupy the first building.

Additionally, Peet’s Coffee announced in December that a $58 million, 175,000-square-foot manufacturing facility will be built in Suffolk.

Port of Virginia spokesman Joseph Harris said these developments are the result of the port inspiring confidence in the region for investors.

“Those are the kinds of investments that the port attracts in the state, and those investments equate to jobs and revenue,” he said.