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Category Archives: Discover! Port of Kalama

Discover! The Port collaborates with schools and businesses to educate students on career opportunities right here at home

Did you know that businesses  at the Port of Kalama employ more than 1,100 people? When you drive by the Port you may not see a lot of people or corporate neon signs, but Port of Kalama businesses combine to create a formidable employment community in Cowlitz County.

From family-owned ventures to Fortune 500 companies, there are over 30 industries conducting global business and commerce including import/export, manufacturing, marketing, welding and fabrication, steel manufacturing, recycling, trucking and myriad other commercial and industrial enterprises. They choose Kalama for its ideal location in the heart of the Pacific Northwest and proximity to highway, railroad and the Columbia River

Through work at the Kalama Career Fair and ongoing engagement of Port businesses in educational programs, the Port of Kalama continues to build close relationships between students, the faculty of Kalama Schools and the Port’s business community.

“We have a strong commitment to our community—we exist to create economic opportunity for our region, now and into the future,” says Mark Wilson, executive director at the Port of Kalama and a collaborative partner of the Kalama Career Fair. “We want to help create a balanced opportunity for students to learn about a range of careers and business opportunities—there are amazing jobs right here and businesses that offer world-class advantages in Kalama.”

The Kalama School District Career Fair takes place on Thursday, April 18 at the Kalama High School Gym.  It is planned to spotlight the businesses, career opportunities and family-wage jobs right here in Kalama—and beyond.

The fair offers students an opportunity to learn about the companies in Kalama, the wide range of careers available here, the skill sets required, and the pathway to obtaining those jobs. The event, which is organized like a trade show with booths and spokespeople, invites local businesses to participate and share tips on what students should be thinking about and learning in order to secure their job and career path.

One eager Port business partner and Career Fair participant is Rob Rich, vice president of marine services at Shaver Transportation, a company that offers Port of Kalama businesses a tug and barge assistance service for ships, inland grain and bulk commodity transportation, and harbor/marine services. Rich, has participated in all Kalama Career Fairs and delights in helping students understand the business, career and job options available right here on the river.

“I want students to know what is expected of them when they seek a job—they need a high school education, they need to demonstrate that they are capable of learning and that they can take direction,” says Rich. “And I’d encourage other Port businesses to join us—it’s so important to reach out to these kids while they are in high school to offer them job exposure and help them to discover their passion. It’s the best time to help them along their life career path.”

Students will attend a presentation on Port businesses prior to visiting the Career Fair so they can make decisions on which businesses they would like to learn more about.

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Discover! Why is the Port of Kalama investing in the Spencer Creek Business Park?

The Spencer Creek Business Park is being built as a part of the Port of Kalama’s long-term plan to diversify the region’s business sector—which is important for ensuring a healthy economy and thriving community. The new Business Park was methodically planned to support a mix of commercial business, retail, dining, lodging and light industrial when it is complete.

In fact, it is much like the long-term build-out of the popular Kalama River Industrial Park—also a long-planned and very successful Port investment. The Port constructs infrastructure like the Industrial Park as well as bridge access, roads, sidewalks and required utilities to attract productive business partners and opportunity to the community.

The Port built-out the industrial buildings to invite companies who wanted existing infrastructure and amenities. And the good news? The Industrial Park is now home to 10 manufacturing businesses and 100s of employees.

The Industrial Park has been so successful the Port recently built another industrial building to house new tenants who are core to the emerging steel manufacturing and distribution sector here.

The Port will also build-out some of the preliminary infrastructure and amenities for the Spencer Creek Business Park, which is a long-planned mixed-use concept imagined decades ago by the Port team and commissioners. This is all part of our mission to maintain the community’s economic health with thoughtful growth.

And the Port has already invested in the Spencer Creek neighborhood with the Haydu Park recreational facility we all appreciate. The Port will soon open a brand-new playground with state-of-the-art play structures for our children to enjoy.

With the current surface road project at Spencer Creek Business Park, we’re on the way to developing the area to welcome new diverse businesses and jobs.

Watch our video to learn more about Spencer Creek Business Park!

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Discover! Who are your Port Commissioners?

Port of Kalama Commissioners are elected to six-year terms as defined by law. Many of the Port’s projects and developments are the results of long-term planning and decades long vision of many Port commissioners.

The elected Port of Kalama Board of Commissioners sets Port policy following the organizational mission is ‘to induce capital investment in an environmentally responsible manner to create jobs and to enhance public recreational opportunities.’  The Commission ensures a sound economic development strategy for the Port to create a balanced and diverse industry base and provide living wage jobs and a range of community recreational amenities.

So, who are these community leaders?


Alan Basso


Alan Basso has served as a Kalama Port Commissioner since 2012. He is a long-time Kalama resident and currently serves as a Lieutenant and Fire Investigator with the Longview Fire Department. 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.

Alan is fourth generation Kalama citizen—his maternal grandfather, Otto Kockritz, was born here in 1890. His father built the Kockritz Hotel in 1908, which is now home to Poker Pete’s. Alan’s maternal great grandmother moved to Kalama, settling up the River in 1904 on a farm known as ‘The Red Barn.’ His paternal grandparents emigrated from Finland and settled on Green Mountain in 1919.  In 1923, Alan’s great aunt and husband arrived and purchased a nearby farm.  In 1948, his parents bought the great aunt’s home, and he, in turn, bought it to keep it all in the family.

Troy Stariha

Vice President

Troy Stariha has served as a Commissioner for the Port of Kalama since 2010.

He also is currently serving as Chair for the Executive Committee for the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments. A long-time Kalama resident, he graduated from Kalama High School in 1989. Troy has worked for Kalama Auto Supply and Repair for 27 years, purchasing the business in 2003.  As a small business owner within his community, he understands the area’s desires and future needs on a personal level.

His focus on economic development helps the port successfully create a balance of quality of life and family-wage jobs in the region. The Port of Kalama is an integral part of their community and Troy is proud to serve as commissioner. Troy is the father of three boys and has one grandchild. Much of his free time is spent attending his sons’ sporting events. Other hobbies include playing golf, watching NASCAR and attending community events.

Randy Sweet


Randy Sweet has served as a Kalama Port Commissioner since 2005. An engineering geologist and hydrogeologist with degrees from LCC, Western Washington and the University of Oregon, he founded a very successful nationwide environmental consulting business.  He is also past president of the St. John Foundation and chairman of the Cowlitz County Planning Commission, and is a founding member of the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board. Randy and his wife Sheli have lived in the oldest house in Kalama for over 40 years!

Port Commissioners have many responsibilities to ensure optimum use of port facilities, acreage and infrastructure. The commission oversees everything from marina and industrial improvements to due diligence on industries that fit and comply with the mission of the Port and the culture of the community, as well as investment in community recreational facilities like parks, walking paths, marina and other amenities.

Thank you for your service to our community, Commissioners Basso, Stariha and Sweet! You are appreciated.

The Port Commission is here to serve the community

Citizens interested in communicating with their Port of Kalama Commissioner can call the Port offices at 360-673-2325; send letters to their Commissioner at the Port office, 110 West Marine Drive, Kalama, Washington 98625; or email

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Discover! Why does the Port of Kalama build amenities like the new amphitheater?

As a key contributor to the Kalama community, the Port elects to provide and enhance public recreational opportunities. In fact, ensuring public recreational opportunities on Port property is explicitly stated in the Port’s mission statement.

And we take that directive seriously! The Port of Kalama has created—and is home to—miles of scenic walking paths, riverfront beaches, a recently renovated marina and acres of public parks.

Over the years, organizations, individuals and groups in our community have looked at our parks as ideal venues to gather, celebrate and host recreational activities. With an increased demand for community events, concerts and public activities at Marine Park, last year the Port carefully considered the community benefits of creating a small public amphitheater to better accommodate those groups.

The intent was to create a more enjoyable guest experience at events like the ones we’ve been enjoying here for decades such as the Blues and Hawaiian Festivals and the Festival of Lighted Boats to name just a few.  Establishing a permanent stage and electrical power lowers the cost to event organizers since a stage and generators do not need to be rented for an event.

The Port also developed the amphitheater to support the downtown commercial district and provide an option for enjoying the park after a visit to the community’s core. We are also planning a beautiful new pedestrian overpass to support pedestrian foot traffic to and from the downtown area. It’s another amenity that will benefit all of us.

The amphitheater is nearing completion and the grassy open space we envisioned offers tiered seating for concerts and special events that already attract us to the Kalama waterfront. It’s a beautiful natural setting for events, and the area will be open to the public for picnics, gathering, and just enjoying the park.

Special heartfelt thanks go to one of our newest tenants at the Port, Bridger Steel, for their generous contribution of the beautiful metal roofing for the amphitheater. Port businesses contribute so much more to our community than just jobs and tax revenue—and their partnerships are so very welcomed. Thank you to the local team at Bridger!

Why do we contribute these amenities and features to our community? To make Kalama the most livable, prosperous place it can be. As community stewards our mission is to ensure that the environment, economy and community assets—like the amphitheater—are thoughtfully planned to work in harmony with one another.

Visit any one of our celebrated parks to enjoy:

  • Beaches and waterfront for boating and fishing
  • Facilities for soccer, baseball, tennis, basketball, pickleball, sand volleyball
  • Equestrian arena
  • Covered picnic pavilions and playgrounds
  • Walking paths
  • Expo area for events

Visit for more recreational opportunities and public events.

For more information on the amphitheater and other Port recreational facilities, please contact Paul Morin, Recreation Administrator, at 360-673-2325.


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Discover! The Circle of Life Port businesses create for our community

As an economic development entity, the Port of Kalama has developed considerable economic muscle to the benefit of Cowlitz County as well as the State of Washington. The growing steel sector at the Port of Kalama exemplifies the economic circle of life core to the Port’s success and that of its business partners! The Port is consistently welcoming new business and creating job opportunities for the region.

And that’s why the Port does what it does—helps to create the economic bedrock for the industrial and business sectors to thrive. This this inspiring video tells the story of the Port of Kalama’s thriving circle of life—and what it means to keep jobs here close to home.

Think of this economic cycle like this: the Port invests in the land, buildings, facilities and amenities necessary to draw business. In turn, companies and employees located here purchase materials, buy lunches and gas, and pay taxes. State and local taxes paid by port located companies exceed $95 million per year.

Local residents benefit from the significant capital investment of the businesses here at the Port of Kalama. Revenue from the wharves, leases, and business fees enable the Port to fulfill its mission of inducing capital investment in an environmentally responsible manner to create jobs and to enhance public recreational opportunities.

Thanks to port businesses and the port’s commitment to serving the public with parks, industrial facilities and marine terminals, walking paths and creating a unique tourist destination, locals can enjoy the bounty without paying a cent in taxes.

The Port’s tenants are the backbone of the entire Port of Kalama organization. They bring revenue streams that allow the Port to do all the other things it does—creating manufacturing jobs that are high-wage better our community and just create more economic activity. That enables us to have really good schools—to have good fire and police protection and all those other things we enjoy here.

According to Port of Kalama’s executive director Mark Wilson, the new industrial building at the Kalama River Industrial Park really showcases a microcosm of how that cycle works here at the Port:

  • Port companies bring in raw steel from international markets;
  • The steel comes across Port docks where it’s offloaded from ships by longshore laborers;
  • The steel is then moved into Steelscape LLC so Cowlitz County steel workers can process it;
  • And companies like Bridger Steel in turn purchase that steel—forming it onsite and actually having a hand in building the new industrial structure they are occupying.


The Port has built the infrastructure for industries to come in and thrive— welcoming good companies right here close to home is huge for the local workforce. All the players—the Port and its incredible business partners and tenants—have a piece of the puzzle that creates this thriving community and that’s how the Port succeeds and how these companies succeed as well.

It is so important and it’s not the kind of thing people think about very often. But these businesses are the cornerstone and foundation of what it takes to keep a community healthy, happy and growing.

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Discover! Port of Kalama progresses with next phase of improvements at Spencer Creek Business Park

The Port of Kalama is ready to commence the next phase of improvements at the Spencer Creek Business Park! The Port this week opened its bidding process for enhancements to Kalama River Road and Highway 99 including modifications to support additional traffic in the area and ease access for residents and visitors alike.

While the Port is still compacting land at the site for future mixed-use development, the next phase of construction will include modifying roads and traffic controls to ease flow and access to the East Port area. The Port is anticipating the needs of residents and the community into the future as Spencer Creek Business Park development continues over the years.

This spring, the community will see construction crews on site working on road enhancements like:

  • Additional turning lanes,
  • A new roundabout for a welcome to the area and efficient traffic flow,
  • New sidewalks and pathways for bikes and pedestrians, and
  • Aesthetic improvements like rain gardens, street lighting and other landscaping.


The area will be well-marked with signs to help explain the process and we encourage residents and visitors to visit our Facebook page and blog for updates and news on the work.

To enhance the community, the 70-acre Spencer Creek Business Park will fulfill a part of the Port’s mission to continue to create jobs and public recreational opportunities. The development may support a mix of light industrial, office, commercial and retail uses including:

  • Light industrial
  • Commercial/retail
  • Hotel
  • Fuel/Convenience store
  • Dining


Economic assessments as early as the mid-1990s identified a future need for additional mixed-use development along I-5 and for additional recreational opportunities.  The Port included this information in its Comprehensive Plan and Scheme of Harbor Improvements, and as suitable property became available, began purchasing land on the east side of I-5 and planning for mixed use development.  The result is the current development which has begun at I-5 Exit 32 and includes Haydu Park and the Spencer Creek Business Park.

Watch this video to find out more about what Spencer Creek Business Park will bring to our community.

Spencer Creek Business Park Concept



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Discover! The Columbia River connects us to the world and impacts our lives each day

The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest and the fourth largest river in the U.S. by volume at roughly 1,243 miles long. It originates in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, and flows south through Washington state until it meets with the Snake River near Pasco, Washington, and turns west. The Columbia River forms the border between Washington and Oregon before emptying into the Pacific Ocean just west of Astoria, Oregon.

In Kalama, we all enjoy our rivers—home to world class fishing, boating and water sports not to mention the incredible scenic beauty of our place here on the Columbia. A part of the Port’s mission is to ensure our river continues to be a place where Northwest families can swim, hike, boat, and fish.

Throughout the Pacific Northwest, Ports support recreational opportunities by providing community marinas and river front access for the public. They also partner with other organizations to restore habitat and help protect river environments.

Many ports and companies who work on the rivers are heavily involved in efforts to improve salmon migration and habitat and support the recovery of healthy salmon populations. Just this last summer, the Port of Kalama provided matching funds for The Lower Columbia Fish Enhancement Group to launch the construction phase of the Kalama River Fish Enhancement Project at the Port of Kalama. The ambitious restoration project will enhance habitat for juvenile and adult fish, increase holding water for salmon and steelhead and create cover for fish to hide from predators.

Fishing is an important recreational and commercial enterprise on our rivers which depends on a healthy and sustainable fish population. According to the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, Our Working Rivers,  thanks to 20 years of hard work and billions of dollars of Northwest ratepayer funds, fish populations on our Pacific Northwest rivers are stronger than they have been since 1938.

While our place on the Columbia River offers a connection to global trade, commerce and transportation, it also offers the community year-round recreational opportunities and boundless beauty and scenic pleasures. The Port of Kalama manages miles of riverfront playground, beaches, public parks and a state-of-the-art marina. As a key player in the Kalama community, the Port is responsible for enhancing public recreational opportunities.

We hope you’ll enjoy all of the public facilities the Port manages on behalf of the community.

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Port Discover! Campaign continues in 2019 to keep you informed

Last January, the Port launched the Discover! campaign. Discover! was created to educate, inform and keep our Kalama neighbors up-to-date as we evaluate and make investments in our community—all while protecting and enhancing our natural resources.

Our mission statement, ‘to induce capital investment in an environmentally responsible manner to create jobs and to enhance public recreational opportunities”, is our guide as we navigate through myriad complex economic and recreational opportunities. And we want you to be apprised—every step of the way.

Did you know the Port has been around since 1920—born of an organized vote of Kalama citizens? Today, the elected Port of Kalama Board of Commissioners meets bi-monthly to discuss Port business and set policy based on a legal community directive called a Comprehensive Scheme of Harbor Improvements. Meetings are open to the public and you can find the schedule here. 

We invite readers to join us on our journey—access  information and learn about our investment policies, new and ongoing Port construction, recreational site upgrades and additions, and upcoming events in the area.

The Port is dedicated to being a transparent and committed steward of the Kalama community. Discover! allows you to keep a finger on the pulse as we pursue our goals outlined in our mission statement, and progress on an environmentally and economically responsible path.

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Discover! We’re looking forward to another fantastic year of exploration and progress!

We’re heading into a bright new year and we’ve got a plan!

It’s been a busy year welcoming new tenants to the Port of Kalama, furthering our mission and planning for future projects that are on the way. The commission and staff completed a Strategic Plan in late September—including projects for 2019 and up to five years of potential activity.

Ports in Washington are required by law to create a Comprehensive Scheme of Harbor Improvements—a long-range planning and policy document. Annually, the Port updates the Strategic Plan outlining specific actions to implement including a budget for proposed projects. That process is always open to public comment.

Some projects include routine activities like dredging at the docks to maintain access, funding our share of Corps of Engineers Columbia River maintenance dredging, and maintaining Port security systems. Other activities include further development at the Spencer Creek Business Park like roads and traffic improvements.

The plan also includes a budget for constructing infrastructure at North Port, pending the receipt of all approvals and permits for the Northwest Innovation Works project.

We will continue the marina repairs and upgrades with a major extension of the guest dock, lighting the boardwalk, and installing crosswalk safety measures.  We are moving forward to install a light commercial dock near the marina entrance for vessels serving ships calling on Columbia River ports.

Additional improvements to the waterfront parks are planned for 2019—replacing the Rasmussen Park restrooms, adding fence to address safety concerns, installing fitness equipment, and improving beach access are included.

And if you’re out for a stroll, check out the new amphitheater in Marine Park. McMenamins has plans for free concerts there next summer!

Although the plan is long and detailed, like any business we must remain flexible and open to opportunity that will benefit our community.  We are ready to respond when opportunities arise that further our goals for economic development and job creation and recreational assets.

We wish you all a very Happy New Year and look forward to greeting you in 2019!

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Discover! Let’s take a look back at what we’ve explored in 2018

It’s been almost a year since we launched our Discover! campaign—a bi-weekly blog planned to help Kalama residents and visitors better understand what we do, and why!

We explored questions like Who are we? What do we do? Why do we do it? Who makes the decisions and how? And we’ve received excellent responses—we look forward to continuing the discovery with you in 2019!

Now let’s take a look back at some highlights of Discover! before we continue our journey into 2019.

What is the Port of Kalama?

The Port of Kalama is a local government agency considered a Special Purpose District in the State of Washington, which has the largest system of public ports in the world. In Washington, Special Purpose Districts are limited purpose local governments separate from a city, town, or county government.

What is the Port’s mission?

The Port of Kalama’s mission is ‘to induce capital investment in an environmentally responsible manner to create jobs and to enhance public recreational opportunities.’  The Port Commission ensures a sound economic development strategy for the Port creating a balanced and diverse industry base to provide living wage jobs and a range of community recreational amenities.

At the core of the Port of Kalama’s mission is a promise to carefully evaluate community investments to create jobs and enhance public recreational opportunities all while protecting and enhancing the environment and natural resources. That careful balance is in the DNA of every single project the Port embarks upon. It is the Port’s job to follow an approved Comprehensive Plan—required by law—to ensure that the environment, economy and community assets are thoughtfully planned to work in harmony with one another.

What is the role of the Port’s commissioners or elected officials?

The elected Port of Kalama Board of Commissioners sets Port policy and follows the guidelines of the Port’s Comprehensive Plan and Scheme of Harbor Improvements, a legal document that provides a framework to guide day-to-day decisions and help the Port achieve its mission. The Commission helps to create a balanced and diverse industry base to provide living wage jobs and a range of community recreational amenities.

Does the Port levy taxes on the citizens of Kalama?

No taxes! Decades of strategic planning by past and current Port commissioners continue to ensure the required revenue to maintain port facilities, parks and services for all residents with no taxes added. With careful planning and project management, the Port continues to maintain all long-term economic development projects as well as public facilities with the existing revenue it collects from business operations—not from taxes.

What Port projects are underway?

From Spencer Creek Business Park and the North Port Heavy Industrial Site to a new building in the Kalama River Industrial Park, McMenamins locating here, and international businesses choosing Kalama as the perfect place to grow—all of these exist now thanks to years and years of contemplation, collaboration and diligent planning. Port commission predecessors worked thoughtfully for decades to plan and prepare for the regional success the region is now experiencing.

What is the Port of Kalama’s bottom line?

What’s our bottom line? To make Kalama the most livable place it can be. As community stewards, our mission is to ensure that environment, economy and community assets are thoughtfully planned to work in harmony with one another. It is our mission to preserve our natural resources, ensure clean water and fresh air and co-habitat with the wildlife that share this place with us while growing our economy and jobs.

To review more of the Discover! community education campaign, click here to visit more on our blog page.

Thank you for joining us on this informational voyage as we explored all of the complexities, programs, contributions and responsibilities of the largest Special Purpose District in Kalama—your Port of Kalama.

We’ll be back in January with new insights and discoveries!

Season’s Greetings to All!

Have questions? Call us at 360/673-2325

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