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Yearly Archives: 2020

Port of Kalama Mourns a Longtime Friend, Port Commissioner Alan Basso

Port of Kalama mourns the passing of Port commissioner, Alan Basso, who died Friday, November 27 due to cardiac arrest.  Basso served as a port commissioner since being appointed in 2012 to fill the District #2 vacancy, following longtime Port of Kalama Commissioner, Jim Lucas.

A longtime Kalama resident and steadfast public servant, Basso grew up in Kalama and was a significant part of the fabric of its community. He served as a Lieutenant and Fire Investigator with the Longview Fire Department, substitute teacher for Kalama School District and as a part time Juvenile Detention Officer with the Cowlitz County Juvenile Detention Center.  Basso graduated from Kalama High School in 1980, earned a BA degree at Washington State University in 1986 and received an AAS in Fire Protection Technology from Portland Community College in 2010.

“We will remember Alan for his upbeat personality and tireless service to his community,” says Port of Kalama commission president, Troy Stariha. “Our hearts go out to his family, and all who knew him as a firefighter, teacher, commissioner and friend—Alan will be so dearly missed by all of us here at the Port and the entire community.”

Stariha remembers his colleague as a genuine person and larger-than-life fixture in the community. “Basso was such an important friend and part of the entire community. As a commissioner, he was dedicated to upholding the Port’s values and ensuring its many contributions to the community—he took pride in knowing that he played a part in enhancing the quality of life we enjoy here in Kalama. And he had profound knowledge of Kalama and Port history which helped direct many Port considerations and decisions.”

During Basso’s tenure as commissioner, the Port of Kalama experienced a remarkable period of growth and accomplishments—all of which not only enhanced Kalama’s livability but established the port’s position as an economic development engine and business hub for the region.  Just some of the notable events during Basso’s tenure include:

  • Construction of the Port Office and Interpretive Center
  • McMenamins Kalama Harbor Lodge
  • Development of Spencer Creek Business Park
  • Marina modernization
  • Development of Haydu Park
  • Construction of two warehouses for Steelscape
  • Construction of a large multitenant warehouse building
  • Remodel of the TEMCO grain elevator

“I can’t imagine Commission meetings without Alan’s smile and dry wit,” says Port Commissioner, Randy Sweet.  “The community, port and schools have lost a great friend, fireman and teacher.”

The administration and commissioners of Cowlitz County Fire District #5 will meet today with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, Kalama Professional Firefighters Local 4447, Longview Professional Firefighters Local 828, and the Cowlitz Chaplaincy for memorial remembrance planning.

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Cowlitz Container outgrows current facility at Port of Kalama, expands lease from 10,000 to 35,000 square foot facility

The thriving local company signs three-year lease at Kalama River Industrial Park, adds additional square footage to meet growing demand

Cowlitz Container & Die Cutting, a Pacific Northwest packaging, die cutting and bindery company, has signed a lease for 33,000 square feet of warehouse and an additional 2,129 office space at the Port of Kalama. The 49-year old company, which has been a 10,000 square foot tenant of the Port since 2016, now expands and consolidates its Port leasehold to accommodate growing demand for packaging solutions.

Cowlitz Container opened in 1971 as an upstart die company providing die-cutting services to local businesses in the corrugated and folding carton sectors of packaging. Rapid regional growth influenced further expansion of the packaging business—and with even greater demand today, the company enjoys robust growth serving the market for packaging and shrink-wrapping.

“The Port of Kalama is an ideal location for Cowlitz Container to expand its presence in the Pacific Northwest and to serve a growing customer base in the region because of its proximity to transportation routes and the availability of qualified labor,” says Ralph Clark, Cowlitz Container and Die Cutting. “We cannot say enough about the team at the Port—the staff is so supportive of our business needs and just terrific local partners.”

Cowlitz Container is among a growing number of industries and businesses who have found the Port of Kalama an ideal location to grow their businesses. The Port boasts an Industrial Park with buildings ideal for manufacturing, technology, storage and many other industry sectors. The new Spencer Creek Business Park is ready for mixed-use development on the east side of I-5. Sixteen acres of public riverfront parks stand out as popular recreational destinations for both locals and tourists.  Port officials cite several advantages for businesses like Cowlitz Container to expand operations in Kalama including:

  • No state corporate or personal income taxes
  • Collaborative, business-friendly environment
  • Affordable/competitive rates
  • Accessibility to all modes of transportation
  • Quality buildings, land on river/rail/Interstate
  • Quality of life, slow-paced, beautiful, quiet, hometown feel
  • Proximity to international airport at PDX—just 30 minutes away


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Look how far you’ve grown, Port of Kalama!

As we celebrate 100 years at the Port of Kalama, let’s honor the visionaries before us. Their thoughtful planning and preparation brought us the success we now share.

We gratefully carry their dreams forward in ways that will benefit the entire region for decades to come. This vision brings with it thousands of jobs, economic vitality, support for our community—and opportunities for all who live here in Cowlitz County.

Kalama is our home. Like you, we are stewards of the land and responsible for preserving its incredible natural beauty.

To continued success for our prosperous and beautiful community—cheers!

Happy Centennial, Port of Kalama!

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It’s the place to be!

Look how far you’ve grown, Port of Kalama!

The 1990s exploded with infrastructure improvements that continue to attract new businesses and critical manufacturing facilities.

The arrival of the Australian company BHP Steel in the mid-90s—now called SteelScape—became the anchor for a new, local steel sector attracting other steel businesses to Kalama.

Next, a huge expansion, the Kalama River Industrial Park opened in 2000, ushering in the Port’s construction of 6 new buildings—an investment that reeled in even MORE light industrial tenants, including a glass bottle manufacturer.

The Port’s nurturing of industry and investment in infrastructure is a significant example of how it fulfills its core mission—to use capital investment for economic development, create jobs for the people of Kalama and recreational amenities for the community.

Check out our new video! 

Way to pay it forward! Happy Centennial, Port of Kalama!

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Let’s play!

What doesn’t Kalama have?

Thanks to the Port of Kalama this beautiful stretch of the Columbia River is a playground for the community and tourists alike.

Iconic totem poles have beckoned travelers on I-5 to Kalama’s riverfront Marine Park for decades. Its bike paths and beaches signaled the Port’s new era of recreational development when it opened in 1974.

A few years later the Marina opened. Now with over 200 slips and state-of-the-art facilities the marina is a hub for leisure activity.

The Port continues its mission to develop outdoor venues for playtime and entertainment—and last year they even opened the Westin Amphitheater for concerts and other public events.

When it comes to recreation, Kalama’s got it all.

Thank you, Port of Kalama! Happy Centennial!

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If you build it, they will come.

If you build it, they will come. And come they did. Grains. Down the river, through Kalama and out to feed the world.

The Port of Kalama’s grain elevator was the accomplishment of Port Manager Ed Hendrickson. His new framework for business at the Port of Kalama would build facilities and lease them out to private industry. Brilliant! Hendrickson led the Port for 23 years, from 1950.

‘Where river, rail and road meet’ was a great slogan and good for business at the Port of Kalama.

Hendrickson shaped much of the waterfront, laying groundwork for the Port’s marina and spearheading the development of Marine Park. His successes provided revenue for future economic development. 

Check out the video!

And look at you now!

Happy Centennial, Port of Kalama!

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All hail the USS Oregon!

The USS Oregon—of her many heroic feats, pulling Kalama out from the Great Depression is a local triumph.

After serving in several major wars, the Oregon came out of retirement when iron was needed for WWII.  She was towed to the Port of Kalama in March 1943 to be salvaged.

That launched a flurry of robust economic activity as workers were hired to break down the ship and repurpose its parts.

It was a boon for Kalama, patriotic and profitable—and you’re still going strong!

Check out our entertaining video on the USS Oregon!

Happy Centennial, Port of Kalama!

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Vroom! Vroom!

The post Depression era found Kalama in a great position to prosper, due to the planning of its leaders in forming the Port.

The Port of Kalama stood ready to rev up the local economy with help from Federal New Deal Programs of the 1930s.

Completion of the Bonneville Dam in 1937 by the Army Corps of Engineers brought clean, low-cost hydroelectric power to the region and also mitigated the Columbia River flooding. Bonus!

Stability for the Port of Kalama attracted new industries, such as grain, and chemical companies in addition to wood products. Many of the businesses attracted from the 40s to the 60s remain important tenants of the Port today—thank you, TEMCO, RSG Gram, and Emerald Kalama!

One hundred years later, you’re better than ever.

Happy Centennial, Port of Kalama!

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Port of Kalama is born!

Quite the Renaissance man, Kalama resident Hite Imus not only led the move to create the Port of Kalama but served as the city’s first mayor, county clerk, prosecuting attorney, and ran the Land Office. He also founded, owned and wrote the editorial page for the Kalama Bulletin for 40 years. Whew!

Imus, along with civic leaders JG Gruver and FL Jenkins, put their plan for an economic engine into action and the Port of Kalama was inaugurated in April 1920, with 600 waterfront acres and a commercial dock that served maritime industries.

Check out this entertaining video! 

100 years later you’re still going strong!

Happy Centennial, Port of Kalama!

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Discover! Port of Kalama named third largest bulk exporter on the West Coast, 16th largest in the nation

The Port of Kalama has again been named the third largest bulk exporter on the West Coast right after Los Angeles and Long Beach, California according to the US Census Bureau and USA Trade Online. Handling well over 13 million metric tons of bulk commodities, the Port of Kalama weighs in as one of the West Coast’s largest exporters.

The Columbia River is the third largest grain export gateway in the world, exporting more than 50% of the nation’s wheat. Today, 50 million tons of cargo travel up and down the Columbia River. The Port of Kalama plays a key role in the Northwest’s robust export trade industry.

The Port of Kalama is home to 30 industries employing more than 1,200 people, who choose the Port for its superior customer service and business support.

Honoring 100 years of service to the nation’s booming export business

As they celebrate 100 years of service, the Port of Kalama is no stranger to international trade, commerce and transportation. Port of Kalama enjoys a rich history that weaves through time along waterways, railways and roadways to drive home why transportation and commerce like bulk exports continues to be the community’s mainstay today.

On Monday, December 22, 1919, a group of Kalama residents met at the Kalama Business Men’s Club to discuss the formation of a port district. By May, 1920, the Port of Kalama was born of a local election process.

Today highway, rail and water meet in Kalama at some of the most efficient transportation networks in the country. Kalama’s particular landscape gave birth to a booming transportation system impacting the area both culturally and economically—ultimately transforming the area into its position today as an internationally-connected community.

Currently, there are 75 public port districts in Washington. Large and small, east and west, Washington’s ports are active in many different areas of economic development, providing jobs and economic stimulation for their communities.

The Port of Kalama is honored to be recognized as such a significant player in the nation’s booming export trade industry.



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