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Despite pandemic’s hit on supply chains, business is booming at the Port of Virginia

The Port of Virginia’s Virginia International Gateway facility in Portsmouth
The Port of Virginia’s Virginia International Gateway facility in Portsmouth(Port of Virginia)
Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 10:14 AM EDT
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Not long into his “State of the Port” address before a packed oceanfront hotel ballroom in Virginia Beach, Virginia Port Authority CEO and Executive Director Stephen A. Edwards shared a journalist’s comment to him: “Congratulations on being the least newsworthy port.”

During a tumultuous 2021 that included an unrelenting pandemic, widespread supply-chain dysfunction and scores of ships marooned off some U.S. ports, particularly on the West Coast, no news, in port circles, really did become good news — at least in Virginia.

Container-volume growth at the port jumped 25 percent over the previous year, making it the fast-growing port in the country, on a percentage basis, Edwards told about 460 people in his roughly 40-minute address, his first since taking over the helm of the port in January 2021.

Last year, Virginia moved more than 3.5 million containers measured in 20-foot-long units — known as “TEUs” — its most productive year ever.

While other big East Coast ports also saw double-digit growth last year — New York/New Jersey, the largest, moved nearly 9 million TEUs, an 18.5 percent jump, while Savannah, the second-largest, moved 5.6 million units, a 19.8 percent increase — Virginia’s percentage gain beat the competition.

“This is an industry that normally grows as a factor of GDP, 1 to 1.5 times GDP is what our industry normally grows at,” Edwards said. “We’re not supposed to grow at 25 percent…So this is extraordinary growth within our industry.”

While port congestion worldwide was and continues to be a big story, Virginia has managed to pull through relatively unscathed.

READ MORE ON VIRGINIAMERCURY.COM >

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.(Virginia Mercury)

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy

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