Working Waterfront Coalition

Portland's working harbor is Oregon's largest seaport, where the state's primary deep water channel, rail, pipeline, and highway infrastructure come together.

Working Harbor Facts

  • 52,784 direct, induced and indirect jobs are supported by Portland Harbor.

  • 25.5 million tons of goods moved through Portland Harbor in 2011.

    Source: ECONorthwest, Marine Operations Benefits, August 2013; prepared for Port of Portland
  • $3.6 Billion of direct, induced and indirect personal wage and salary income translates to

  • $350.7 million of state and local tax revenue generated by activity in Portland Harbor.

    Source: Martin Associates, The Local and Regional Economic Impacts of Portland Working Harbor, 2011; prepared for Port of Portland, July 16, 2012

Jobs and the Harbor

The Portland Harbor is an economic engine that has existed as a source of jobs and vitality for the Portland metropolitan area and the state for more than a century. With employment in the harbor projected to grow, the Portland Harbor remains an economic driver for the region. Businesses locate in the harbor because of the connections to two major highways, two major railroads and a river transportation system. The utilization of all of these modes of transportation allows harbor businesses to reduce their costs and employ thousands of Portland area residents with family-wage jobs.

What does the Harbor provide in terms of job base and economic impact?

  • 1 out of every 7.4 jobs in the City of Portland is located in or supported by the work done in the Portland Harbor Industrial District.
  • Portland Harbor has a historic average annual growth rate of three percent and a forecasted growth rate of three percent.
  • Industrial marine businesses with direct access to the harbor support approximately 52,784 direct, induced, and indirect local family-wage jobs (24,000 direct jobs) bringing almost $3.5 billion in personal income and $7.6 billion in business revenue to the region’s economy annually.
  • The income wage range for harbor jobs is $65,000 to $80,000 – higher than Portland’s average household income of $48,700.
  • These jobs produce an annual tax benefit of $351 million. 
  • The diversity of jobs allows for various levels of skills and/or education levels, providing job opportunities for many people.

Sources: Martin Associates, The Local and Regional Economic Impacts of Portland Working Harbor, July 2012; ECONorthwest, The Port of Portland’s Marine Operations, August 2013.

What’s the volume of trade in the Portland Harbor?

Approximately 1,000 vessel calls and 25.5 million tons of goods move through the Portland Harbor and Columbia River annually.


  • Autos
  • Steel slab
  • Petroleum products
  • Exports


  • Grain (Oregon feeds the world!)
  • Soda ash (used in glass production)
  • Potash (fertilizer necessary for worldwide food production)
  • Scrap metal


Portland Harbor’s 60-acre shipyard constructs and repairs ships on Swan Island, including cruise ships, military supply vessels, and merchant cargo ships. Shipyard owner Vigor Industrial has the largest dry dock in the United States and is the leading provider of shipbuilding, ship repair and other industrial services in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

Environment and the Harbor

Businesses in the Portland Harbor take pride in doing the right thing for Portland’s community, and are serious about their environmental responsibilities.

Additionally, all harbor businesses operate under the oversight of many federal, state and local entities, including:

  • The City of Portland;
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;
  • Oregon Department of Environmental Quality;
  • Oregon Division of State Lands;
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; and
  • The National Marine Fisheries Service.

Transportation Comparison

Barges built by Vigor, Gunderson and Zidell
can move one ton of cargo 575 miles with one gallon of fuel.

Rail cars, built by Gunderson,
can move one ton of cargo 425 miles.

By comparison, a heavy truck
will move the same cargo only 155 miles.

Fish Weir

A 2.4 million pound fish weir, fabricated on Swan Island by Oregon Iron Works and installed on a Snake River dam by Advanced American Construction, will assist in migrating fish passage. “We have found we are passing more fish with less water,” Corp Project Manager Cary Rahn said, “and that survival rates are 98 percent when going over surface routes.”

Shoreline Rehabitation

The Port of Portland vegetated 2.7 miles of the shoreline through an aggressive planting program and at T-4 laid back the stream bank to create shallow water habitat for resting fish and more vegetation for migrating birds. “We removed acres from industrial use in order to better the environment,” said Tom Van Wormer, Project Manager.


Simplot built a perch at the end of its dock for nesting Ospreys. “It’s very cool to see them thrive in this industrial location” says Bob Piatt, Manager.

Fuel Conservation

Tug boat operators, essential for ship assists and moving product by barge, have dramatically reduce fuel consumption. For example, Shaver recently spent $5.5 million to replace engines in four of its busiest tugs. “The trip from Portland to Lewiston used to take 15,000 gallons of fuel; now it uses 8,900 gallons..” Rob Rich, Shaver Transportation.

Reduce Emissions

Ash Grove Cement utilizes landfill gas from the St. Johns landfill as a source of fuel for drying their raw materials. According to Glenn Dollar, Environmental Health and Safety Manger, “using landfill gas to do beneficial works saves energy and reduces emissions.”


Many businesses in the harbor are investing in stormwater improvements on their sites. For example, Evarz Oregon Steel recently completed a $3 million state of the art end-of-pipe stormwater treatment facility. The project includes a settlement basin, sand filration system and grassy swales to treat stormwater. “The best way for us to help clean up the river is through source control, ” says Debbie Deetz Silva, Environmental Manager.

Schnitzer Steel recently completed a Phase I of its new stormwater system and eliminated eight outfalls to the Willamette River. ” This $1.6 million project allows us to store water on site for process use or dust control, and reduces discharges to the river.”

Reduce Particulate

Other investments are improving air and water quality near the river. For example, Vigor Industrial replaced open air dry abrasive blasting with wet abrasive blasting to reduce particulate matter emissions. “We collect and treat all process water on Swan Island. My family and employees care about the environment; this operational change was the right thing to do”. Alan Sprott , Vice President, Vigor Industrial LLC.