CEO gives updates on Port of Virginia
FRONT ROYAL – The Port of Virginia’s leader said Friday it remains a vital driving force behind the state’s economy.
John Reinhart, the port’s CEO, spoke to local officials and state representatives at the annual State of the Port address about plans to ensure continuation of that economic prowess.
In the last fiscal year, Reinhart said, revenue increased 37 percent to $543 million, and there were 4,000 port-related jobs. He added that 40 businesses expanded or located in Virginia and 2.4 million square feet of facilities were built.
“We started out making promises, and we have worked very hard to deliver on those promises. We are making progress, we’re unleashing potential,” Reinhart said.
While Reinhart altered focus between the port’s six locations across the state, he said Virginia moves more containers than any other state by rail. The majority – 62 percent – of port shipments are done via truck, 35 percent by rail, and 3 percent by boat.
A large portion of those rail shipments are related to the Virginia Inland Port in Warren Country, which Reinhart said there is hope for expanding.
Although two grant requests were denied for such an expansion, he said “we’re going to continue to put some capital here, because we think the opportunities for growth in this part of the state are quite strong.”
Reinhart noted businesses served by the Virginia Inland Port include Home Depot, Red Bull, Rubbermaid, Lenox, and Family Dollar.
John Milliken, Virginia Port Authority Board chairman, said “the upper part of the Shenandoah Valley has, we think, prospered because of the presence of the Port of Virginia in Front Royal. And the future is even brighter.”
Reinhart said recent regional activity include Equus’ construction of a 287,000 square-foot facility in Winchester’s Stonewall Industrial Park. Kingspan Insulation LLC also recently invested $25 million to expand its Winchester plant.
Other Virginia Port Authority terminals locations include Norfolk, Newport News, Portsmouth, and Richmond.
Major projects at facilities include Portsmouth’s plan to increase its capacity to 1.2 million containers and expand railroad operations. There is also an expansion in Norfolk that will nearly double its capacity by 2020.
Milliken noted that any port growth is a positive for the entire state’s economy.
“When I talk to people in rural parts of Virginia – farmers, small business people – what I say to them is ‘the Port of Virginia is the gateway to your world market,'” Milliken said.
State Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Upperville, spoke briefly and agreed that the port has an “impact on the community that I represent, from the revenue it generates to the people it employs, to the businesses it attracts.”