February 13, 2013

Shipping company chose Portland for its culture, infrastructure

By Jessica Hall jhall@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Eimskip, an Icelandic shipping company, chose to move to Portland to expand its presence in New England and cut its shipping time to Northern Europe.

click image to enlarge

The "Goðafoss," one of the ships in Eimskip's shipping fleet. On Tuesday, Gov. Paul LePage announced that the Icelandic shipping company had signed a contract with the Maine Port Authority to begin operating out of the International Marine Terminal in Portland.


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The company had looked at other ports, such as Davisville, Rhode Island and expanding its facility in Everett, Mass., but ultimately chose Portland because of the city's equipment and its culture.

“New England was an area where we wanted to have a bigger presence,” said Larus Isfeld, Eimskip’s general manager. “All of the infrastructure was pretty much in place here. But the biggest factor that drove us here was the culture and the people.”

“We know cold winters. We know snow. We know the heritage of the seafood industry. There’s something about the Scandinavian heritage, something that made us feel good about being here,” Isfeld said.

Eimskip will revive Portland’s container cargo service, which ended last year when a New York-based company ended service that linked Portland, Boston, and Nova Scotia.

Isfeld said Eimskip will bring about 5,000 containers a year through Portland that previously had gone through Norfolk, Va.

Portland’s International Marine Terminal will link with Pan Am Railways, which allow cargo to be transported across North America.

“Without their connection to the U.S. and willingness to work with us, this might not have happened,” Isfeld said.

Eimskip will bring fish from Norway and products from other Northern European markets. Through Portland, items from across the U.S. and locally will gain a direct link and cost-effective access to new European markets.

The company, city and state officials would not quantify how many jobs would be created by Eimskip’s presence or the direct economic benefit. About a dozen longshoremen will unload cargo from Eimskip vessels every two weeks.

“There’s any number of different soundbites you could use – transformative. Game changer. Visionary. What’s happening today to have a major business come to Portland is visionary. This builds on our heritage and solidifies our heritage as a port town,” said Portland Mayor Michael Brennan.


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