Port Director Highlights Record Year and Economic Impact At State of the Port Address

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — The Port of Brownsville expects to set tonnage and revenue records in 2016 predicts Eduardo A. Campirano, Port Director & CEO.

Campirano made the prediction before a group of 150 present Thursday at his State of the Port Address in Brownsville.

In 2015, the port handled more than 10.1 million tons of cargo, exceeding the 2014 record of 8.4 million tons, and recorded almost $20 million in revenue. Although the final numbers for 2016 are not yet available the port is on track to set new tonnage and revenue records. Campirano credits the Brownsville Navigation Board (BND) of Commissioners, customers and business partners for the port’s best performance to date.

“It’s clear that together we are stronger, and that alignment and coordinated effort results in achievements like those we anticipate as we close out 2016,” Campirano added.

Campirano also stated, “In addition, the Port of Brownsville is one of only three Texas ports that have consistently shown growth in increased vessel calls.” The other two ports are Port Lavaca and Freeport. Tonnage at the Port of Brownsville also has consistently shown incremental growth of approximately nine percent annually.

Based on that strong performance, the BND commissioners authorized a $28 million revenue bond to launch an aggressive capital improvement program for 2016. The principal project on the schedule is the construction of the new Liquid Cargo Dock 6 and improvements to Liquid Cargo Dock 3. The contract for both projects is expected to be awarded later this month with construction beginning in early 2017. Completion of the projects is expected by the third quarter of 2018 and cost approximately $25 million.

“These docks are needed and will further enhance our ability to address the growing petroleum segments at the Port of Brownsville,” noted Campirano. “These improvements are critical to the continued sustainability of the Port.”

Campirano cited the construction of Cargo Dock 16 as an example of the impact such improvements can have on the overall health of the port. Since the completion of the project in August 2015, 90 vessel calls carrying more than one million tons of cargo have moved over the dock.

Other capital improvement initiatives in 2016 include: maintenance dredging; 10 additional acres of open storage; renovation of the Foust Road entrance; installation of new water meters; and the addition of the Port Police Safe Boat. Additionally, the port’s administration building will be renovated and expanded in 2017.

In May 2016, the port celebrated its 80th anniversary with a free public street fair-like event for more than 4,000 guests. Also in May, the port announced a new lease on life for the port’s grain elevator complex in partnership with West Plains LLC. On Dec. 15, West Plains will host a ribbon cutting and tours of the rehabilitated facility along with plans to reintroduce grain into the port’s cargo matrix.

In August, the BND commissioners announced the reduction of property tax rates for the 23rd consecutive year. The port also launched Port Matters, an electronic newsletter with a circulation of more than 3,500, highlighting news about the port, its customers and partners.

Campirano also stressed the importance of the port’s public-private partnership with OmniTRAX to operate the port’s 45 miles of railroad track and the Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway. Since 2014, OmniTRAX has operated the BRG and is assisting the port by attracting new customers through such initiatives as the GEOTRAC Industrial Hub and the OmniTRAX Incubator site.

Furthermore, as a division of the Denver-based Broe Group, OmniTRAX brings real development strength to attract new industries and companies to the Valley. OmniTRAX is projecting 38,800 railcar moves at the Port of Brownsville for 2016.

In September, the National Foreign Trade Zones Board announced that FTZ No. 62—the port’s FTZ—ranks second in the nation for the value of exports moving through the zone. “Our customers exported $3.2 billion worth of goods in 2015,” proclaimed Campirano. “This represents the fourth straight year that we’ve ranked in the top three nationally.”

Also in September, the port’s economic impacts were released indicating the Port of Brownsville is responsible for more than 44,000 jobs and $3 billion in annual state economic activity, per a study commissioned by the port. The study reports nearly 8,000 Rio Grande Valley workers are directly employed by activities of the port.

Finally, in October, the port’s financial reporting was honored by the Government Finance Officers Association for excellence in financial reporting.

“We’re making progress in moving this port in the right direction as a major economic force and center for domestic and international trade in the region and in Texas,” said Campirano in closing.