Toledo Port Commissioners were veritably chompin’ at the bit to vote on it. The motion was made and a lightning fast “second!” followed. All in favor was everyone voting. And in the time it took to say “AYE” the commission instructed Port Manager Bud Shoemake to send off their application for $4.4 million dollars in Connect Oregon funds to take the port’s boatyard up a whole flight of “next steps.”
The port is applying for the $4.4 million from the “Connect Oregon” program, run by ODOT and funded by the Oregon State Lottery. Shoemake says he truly believes the port has a really good shot at getting the money because of widespread local, regional and state legislative support. Even the Port of Newport added its strong endorsement that the Port of Toledo be awarded the grant.
Shoemake says the Port of Toledo has been on-the-grow since the day it re-opened after the port bought it from Fred Wahl, who had earlier moved his boat manufacturing operations from Toledo to Reedsport. Shoemake says by hiring good people and attracting top notch boatrights, mechanics, hydraulic techs, painters, the works, the Toledo Boatyard has begun to make a good name for itself all up and down the West Coast.
Shoemake says his recently hired Boatyard Manager Leo Newberg has proven to be a spectacular asset in his knowledge of the boatyard industry and how to grow it. Newberg told the commission that there is no way to underestimate the critical power that the new 300 ton Travel-lift will have to transform the boatyard from a fairly busy local boatyard to a bustling regional boatyard with two to three times the number of family wage jobs that have materialized there already. Having 100 family wage jobs working full time within a few years, he says, is quite possible. That’s fully one-third of the jobs at work at the Georgia-Pacific Pulp and Paper Mill, and there is plenty of additional room for the boatyard to grow out to.
Shoemake says the Travel-Lift will handle 99% of the fishing boats that operate along the Pacific Coasts of the U.S., Canada and Alaska. He said once they secure the lottery grant this August they’ll immediately order the lift. It will arrive in May or June of next year. The grant will also help pay for cleaning up the old polluted riverbed around the boatyard, some dredging and installing new support piers for dock operations. He also says they’ll be able to work on up to nine large vessels at one time since the lift won’t be blocked by the current close quarters around the small lift they’re forced to use today. They will also be adding a new paint facility and possibly some new buildings depending on other funding sources.
Shoemake says they’ve got a lot of work ahead of them but that if everything goes smoothly, the new Travel-Lift and all the new business it will attract, should be up and running by May of 2015, roughly a year and a half from now.
The port is expected to get the official word from Connect Oregon on whether they have been awarded the money by the middle of next Summer. Again, Shoemake says he’s very optimistic about the port’s chances thanks to the widespread economic and political support that’s come in from around the region.
By the way, the Toledo Port Commission approved a new name for the boatyard, changing it from the Toledo Boatyard to the Yaquina Boatyard. Boatyard Manager Leo Newberg said it’s vital that any boatyard have a distinctive name. He said by using the name Toledo Boatyard, it gives the impression that the facility is located in Toledo, Ohio, not in every fishermens’ backyard like Toledo, Oregon. That change, says Newberg, will be a big marketing plus for both the Port and boatyard.