The container ship Largarfoss from Eimskip, an Icelandic shipping company, is docked at the International Marine Terminal in Portland in this 2021 file photo. The terminal received a $14 million grant from the federal government to modernize facilities as it prepares for increased cargo traffic when the nearby cold storage warehouse is finished next year.  Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Portland is receiving $14 million to upgrade its capacity to handle refrigerated cargo – a key development for the future of the city’s international shipping business.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Friday a $14 million grant from the Biden administration’s $17 billion Investing in America fund for the International Marine Terminal on Commercial Street. The money will be used to increase the number of electrical outlets needed to power refrigerated containers that pass through the port facility, as well as the construction of storage racks, new lighting and other improvements.

The upgrades will position the port to better handle increased cargo expected once an adjacent cold storage warehouse is completed.  Crews were pouring its foundation last month and anticipate finishing the project by the second quarter of 2024.

The new facility is expected to meet the refrigerated cargo demand of Icelandic shipping company Eimskip and be large enough to accommodate customers from Maine as well.

There’s almost $2 billion in frozen seafood that is exported from the Eastern Seaboard that doesn’t pass through Portland, according to Wade Merritt, president of the Maine International Trade Center.

Merritt said during a panel presentation hosted by the Camden Conference last year that he hopes the cold storage facility will allow Maine to capture some of that market.

In 2022, the state exported about $3.4 billion in goods, according to the federal International Trade Administration.

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