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Port of Portland Seeks $10 Million in State Aid Amid Financial Struggles

Posted on January 22, 2024

In a bid to overcome financial obstacles, the Port of Portland, custodians of Oregon’s sole international container hub, Terminal 6 (T6), has sought state aid. Curtis Robinhold, the port’s Executive Director, has penned a letter soliciting a $10 million lifeline from Oregon’s state officials.

The plea was directed to notable figures such as Oregon House Speaker Dan Rayfield, Senate President Rob Wagner, and Ways and Means Committee Co-chairs Elizabeth Steiner and Tawna Sanchez.

The Critical Role of Terminal 6

Robinhold underscored the pivotal role played by T6 in fortifying Oregon’s businesses’ ties to the global economy. The struggle to maintain financial viability has been a considerable hurdle, particularly when juxtaposed with larger ports such as those located in Los Angeles and Seattle. T6’s geographical location and market size have posed significant challenges. The port is bracing itself for a projected loss of $14 million in the current fiscal year, triggering the appeal for interim funding.

Negotiations and Future Plans

While the financial aid request looms, efforts are being made to negotiate rate hikes with carriers. Additionally, there’s an active quest to secure a third-party operator for a long-term lease. Robinhold stressed that T6 is instrumental in propelling around 1,500 jobs across the state. It also contributes to the generation of over $20 million in annual state and local tax revenues, courtesy of various associated businesses.

The Bigger Picture

T6 is also a significant conduit for imports and exports for major automobile giants such as Ford and Hyundai. Despite concerted efforts to stem the financial hemorrhage through rate negotiations and stakeholder deliberations, the potential closure of container service at T6 is a grim reality without additional support. This could take the form of increased carrier rates, a long-term lease agreement, or alternative funding sources to counterbalance the losses.

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