Port Sets Records, Eyes Future


Port Sets Records, Eyes Future

Brownsville Navigation District Board Chairman John Reed
Brownsville Navigation District Board Chairman John Reed

The Port of Brownsville once again posted a record year for 2018, moving 11.3 million tons of cargo with operating revenues of more than $24.2 million. That translates into a 6.6-percent increase in cargo along with a 25-percent bump in rail movements. Revenues were also up 2.5 percent over the previous year, according to figures released during the State of the Port event in March.

“The Port of Brownsville made significant strides in further securing its place as the region’s leading economic engine,” said Eduardo A. Campirano, port director and chief executive officer.

Brownsville Navigation District Board Chairman John Reed highlighted the notion of the regional importance of the port. “Something good is happening at the Port of Brownsville, and that’s impacting what’s happening in Brownsville and throughout the Rio Grande Valley.”

Highlights of the State of the Port presentation include:

  • Surpassing $24 million in operating revenues for the first time, with $24,226,454.
  • For the second year, and three out of the last four years, a tonnage record was set with 11.3 million short tons of cargo moving through the port. This is up from the previous year’s 10.6 million tons.
  • Nearly 8,000 people have jobs due to direct and indirect impacts of the port. Nearly a thousand workers pick up or deliver truckloads of goods.
  • The port’s foreign trade zone accounted for exported cargo valued at $3.6 billion, thus ranking second in the nation out of 293 FTZs for the third year in a row.
  • The channel deepening project to 52 feet, a $350 million investment, should receive its U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits by the end of this year. The ship channel would become one of the deepest on the Gulf of Mexico. It will closely match the design features of the expanded Panama Canal.
  • Three liquified natural gas proposals continue to successfully navigate the federal approval process. Assuming construction of all three to design capacity, there could be a creation of more than 7,400 construction jobs for seven to 10 years. Nearly 500 permanent jobs could result from the projects.
  • Big River Steel continues to look at the port for a new steel mill. The company is exercising its option to extend its 500-acre land lease for another year. The $1.6 billion LEED certified electric arc steel mill, if built, would expect to employ 1,200 construction workers for two years. It would also create 400 high-tech full-time jobs.
  • Keppel AmFELS is pioneering ship building at the port, making Brownsville the only place in Texas for construction of deep-draft ships.
  • The $28 million Old Dock 6 is expected for completion by the end of the second quarter of 2019.

“Today, we are on the verge of transformational change for the port, the community and the region,” Reed said. “Our time is here.”

George Cox is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years experience as a newspaper writer and editor. A Corpus Christi native, he started his career as a reporter for The Brownsville Herald after graduating from Sam Houston State University with a degree in journalism. He later worked on newspapers in Laredo and Corpus Christi as well as northern California. George returned to the Valley in 1996 as editor of The Brownsville Herald and in 2001 moved to Harlingen as editor of the Valley Morning Star. He also held the position of editor and general manager for the Coastal Current, a weekly entertainment magazine with Valleywide distribution. George retired from full-time journalism in 2015 to work as a freelance writer and legal document editor. He continues to live in Harlingen where he and his wife Katherine co-founded Rio Grande Valley Therapy Pets, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the benefits of therapy pets and assisting people and their pets to become registered therapy pet teams.