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Dole contract keeps port’s Tenth Ave. terminal flush with bananas

12% of the country’s bananas represent one of terminal’s major imports

Workers offload containers of bananas at the port's Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.

Yes, we have bananas. And we’ll have them for at least the next 25 years. The Port of San Diego has completed a 24.5-year lease agreement with the Dole Fresh Fruit Company to continue importing bananas and pineapples. The lease covers 22 acres of the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal’s nearly 100 acres. This is important news for our bustling working waterfront and the 40 members of the Working Waterfront Group

Dole Fresh Fruit Company is a division of Dole Food Company (NYSE: DOLE), the largest importer of bananas and second largest importer of pineapples to North America. The company has operations in 90 countries and has more than 75,000 employees. The Port of San Diego is Dole’s first stop for fresh fruit that is moving into the western United States from South America. The equivalent of 95,000 20-foot containers of Dole fruit moves through the Port of San Diego each year. Dole imports 468,000 tons of bananas through the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal — some 185 million each month.

But that’s just a portion of what comes through San Diego on the way to the rest of the county.

Perhaps most notable is the import of some 273,000 new automobiles in 2010 through the National City Marine Terminal — one of every 10 cars imported through U.S. terminals. The port has brought in enough windmill components to supply power to more than 1.5 million people or 500,000 households per year. That’s about the size of Houston.

The breadth between bananas and Bentleys illustrates the port’s massive local and regional economic impact. Maritime cargo activity generated an annual economic impact of $1.6 billion to the region in fiscal year 2005, with $217 million in direct revenue received by firms dependent on the marine terminals and businesses. Some $1.4 billion in value to the California economy is created by cargo moving via the port’s two marine terminals.

The Working Waterfront Group is committed to working collaboratively with policy makers, regulators and the community to develop win-win solutions for the San Diego waterfront and the region. Nowhere has this collaboration been more successful than in contributing mightily to the economic engine the port has become.

Port-related industry shipyards and ship repair complexes — some 19,000 in all — generated an economic impact of $7.6 billion and provided 42,000 jobs to the region with an average wage of $62,400, according to a fiscal study by Economics Research Associates in 2007.

Finalizing the Dole agreement was an important step to future cargo operations at Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, and will lead to infrastructure investment by both organizations. The agreement highlights Dole and the Port of San Diego as leaders in the movement of maritime cargo in an environmentally responsible way. The lease requires that Dole continue its100 percent compliance rate under the port’s “Clean Truck Policy” and requires that Dole’s vessels be in full compliance with the California Air Resources Board’s regulations for plugging into shore power sources when dockside, thereby reducing air emissions. Dole will spend up to $150 million to build three new vessels that will call the Port of San Diego home. The Port will invest approximately $7 million to install the shore power equipment at the berth that will serve the new ships.

The terms of the lease agreement also include considerations for the port’s neighbors. The neighborhood of Barrio Logan is a culturally significant community located adjacent to downtown San Diego and Dole’s terminal facility. The lease agreement expands Dole’s operating area to an off-site warehouse location, which removes truck staging and off-terminal operations from residential areas

The length of this lease, 24.5 years total, is significant for Dole. The company typically chooses much shorter lease terms.

“Dole’s willingness to jointly invest with the port over the course of the next quarter century indicates the strength and viability of cargo operations at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal,” said Joel Valenzuela, director of maritime operations, Port of San Diego. “This agreement expands an already solid relationship, and it demonstrates the importance of the Port of San Diego to the transportation network that moves goods within our region, state and country.”

Our Working Waterfront Group mission is to contribute significantly to the region’s economy through the preservation of these businesses and the family-supporting waterfront jobs they provide.

John Pasha and Ed Plant are co-chairs of the Working Waterfront Group, which represents Port tenants involved in maritime business.

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