From any major port in the world, goods are shipped worldwide every day. Many of these goods are part of vast distribution networks that originate in one place, and make multiple stops before reaching their end destination. There is an entire industry built around the concept of “value-added shipping” in which businesses located near major export ports provide an integral service that helps ready a product for its final destination. This may be adding a crucial component, or applying a treatment like cleaning, processing or refrigerating. This ancillary business function presents ample growth opportunities for MidAtlantic businesses in the vicinity of these major export locations.
The Port of Virginia is the deepest harbor on the U.S. East Coast. Its facilities see cargo move from and to markets around the globe, with nearly 30 international shipping lines offering direct, dedicated service to and from Virginia. It hosts connections to 200+ countries around the world. In an average week, more than 40 international container, break-bulk and roll-on / roll-off vessels are serviced at the port’s marine terminals.
The port offers 50-foot channels, inbound and outbound, and is the only East Coast port with Congressional authorization to dredge to 55 feet. In an era where container ships are carrying tens of thousands of twenty-foot equivalent units per voyage, deep water and the absence of overhead restrictions is a significant competitive advantage.
Upon berthing at one of the Port’s 4 main terminals, shipments enjoy excellent rail connections and service. Both CSX and NorfolkSouthern provide Class I scheduled service into the Ohio Valley, Midwest and Southeast from the Port, and short-line rail companies provide numerous regional connections for any bulk or containerized payload. For truckers, multiple interstates and highways connect the Port throughout the region.
This MidAtlantic port also shelters the world’s largest naval base; a robust shipbuilding and repair industry; a thriving export coal trade and boasts the sixth largest containerized cargo complex in the United States.
The top commodities that are shipped out of the Port of Virginia include:
While these products arrive at the port from locations all over the eastern half of the U.S., there are many items that originate more locally.
Located in northern North Carolina, Currituck County is positioned along travel routes that connect the Raleigh/Durham metropolitan area and central N.C. (which produces agricultural products such as sweet potatoes, peanuts and tobacco) with the Port of Virginia. Areas like Currituck present an ideal location for value-added shipping businesses to add value to commodities that are produced regionally in the MidAtlantic and are on their way to an international market.
According to an economic impact study conducted by the Mason School of Business at the College of William & Mary, 343,000 Virginia jobs (nearly 10% of Virginia’s resident workforce) are linked to port activity across the port’s six terminals. Those jobs generate $13.5 billion in annual compensation and $1.2 billion in state and local taxes.
As the value-added shipping industry continues to grow, it offers added opportunities for job growth and tax revenues across the MidAtlantic region.