Oregon Business – Port of Toledo
For more than a century, the Port of Toledo has managed infrastructure near the central Oregon coast, starting with docks, piers and roads.
Formed in 1910 to approach and promote dredging for the maritime trade, the port successfully advocated for a complete dredging of the Yaquina River in 1914. During its early days, it helped millions of tons of cargo, mostly commodities. foresters, down the newly cleared waterway. .
In 2008, the port took an important first step in expanding its infrastructure. A private shipyard serving the Yaquina fleet was to be closed. Knowing that sufficient stranding was essential to maintain the local fishing fleet, a major economic contributor to the region, the port purchased the shipyard with support from the State of Oregon.
This acquisition changed the course of the Port, which previously relied on revenues from its marina and industrial properties, reflecting a new strategy focused on diversification.
The expanding shipyard of the port of Toledo
“Over the past 15 years, during Bud Shoemake’s tenure as director, leading the Harbor Commission, and in particular with support from the State of Oregon and Business Oregon, we have grown to giant steps forward with the acquisition of the shipyard. It changed everything for the port and opened up so many opportunities. It was really a turning point, ”says Lorna Davis, Port Manager, Port of Toledo. “Community, regional and state partners have been and continue to support them, and the port continues to grow.”
In 2014, with a Connect Oregon V grant of $ 4.6 million, the port expanded its shipyard and fitted it with a 660-ton mobile elevator to accompany its 85-ton elevator, allowing the port to serve Newport’s Local and Distant Fishing Fleet – the largest operating fishing fleet on the Oregon coast.
The shipyard quickly emerged as an investment with the greatest potential for job creation. As a one-stop-shop service provider, the port has significantly expanded its team to offer painting, steel fabrication, hull repairs, fiberglass work, mechanical repairs, installation of marine equipment. bridge, project management and more. These internal teams work alongside nearly 40 qualified local companies who directly benefit from the economic opportunities of the shipyard.
In 2016, a Connect Oregon VI grant of just over $ 2 million and a loan from Business Oregon’s Special Public Works Fund enabled the port to expand the potential of its shipyard with the construction of a building. environment of 20,000 square feet, which is expected to open. its doors this spring.
“Until now, our operations have mainly taken place outside. This moves the sanding and painting around a building, making it more environmentally friendly, ”says Davis. “The winters off the Oregon coast are brutal and that’s when we see a lot of our stuff because of how the fishery works. Keeping our operations away from the outside elements contributes to our business model and prepares us for the future. “
To foster the skilled workforce needed to meet these growing employment opportunities, the Port of Toledo has partnered with the Oregon Coast Community College, Lincoln County School District and Maritime Administration (MARAD), to launch a welding program for students. The initiative gives registrants a gateway to a maritime business, allowing them to find quality jobs close to home. As there were over 200 students on the waiting list, an expansion of the program is being considered as part of the port’s strategic business plan – in particular, the expansion of its industrial park, which will attract and develop industries. maritime services.
Likewise, the port’s secondary internship program invites students interested in seafaring trades to spend time working in the shipyard. Although the growing opportunities for the region remain at the heart of the mission of the Port of Toledo, its commitment to the community goes beyond economic development.
In recent years, the port has built a paddle park and waterfront park with gazebos and picnic areas. A paved trail, viewing platform, dock, and jetty make it easy for the community to enjoy their Yaquina River. To attract visitors to Toledo and all of the city’s offerings, the port-sponsored Toledo Community Boathouse program offers a boat building experience, boating and boating safety training, as well as a free family boating program throughout the summer. In addition, the port hosts the annual wooden boat festival in August.
“It is our responsibility to be good stewards in the community and to lead by example. We want to create quality jobs. We want to develop local businesses, ”says Davis. “We want to strengthen the financial strength of the port to ensure the success of future community programs, while protecting our environment and the quality of life here.
Uniquely, the Port of Toledo operates as both a competitive business enterprise and a public service agency. In line with its 2018 strategy, it will continue to prioritize shipyard infrastructure, economic diversification and local training programs to support a skilled maritime workforce.
In Toledo – where art and industry meet – a mill, an art district and a plethora of family businesses join the port to boost the city’s momentum: “There is a lot of art. , soul and history here, and it’s all interwoven in a community that has grown and thrived through economic challenges, ”says Davis.
A challenge that most waterways face is dredging, which is vital and expensive. The US Army Corps of Engineers prioritizes dredging projects based on the tonnage entering and leaving the bay, which currently excludes fishing cargo. To ensure the port’s long-term success, the team is working alongside other coastal ports at the federal level to include fishing crops as cargo tonnage.
“The success of the port will provide opportunities for the region. This is crucial for longevity. Achieving the goals and objectives set out in our strategic business plan will ensure that the port and the region will be in a strong operational position going forward. “
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