Wilmington port board expected to vet proposed lease deal next week
The Port of Wilmington’s board is set to debate an agreement to lease the port to a Middle Eastern shipping company next week. The deal could create thousands of more jobs in Delaware.
Port operator Gulftainer would lease the Port of Wilmington for 50 years under the preliminary agreement and pay the state annually based on cargo volume.
Gulftainer is also pledging to put about $580 million to overhaul the existing infrastructure and build a container terminal at the former DuPont Edgemoor site.
The company is based in the United Arab Emirates. It opened its first U.S. facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida about four years ago. State Rep. Quinn Johnson (D-Middletown) says he fully evaluated Gulftainer as a member of the port’s board of directors.
“We’ve been working for over a year on the proposals and the different entities that have put forth deals and proud to see that the work and effort that’s gone into it and of course the outcome which is going to be very very positive for Delaware,” he said.
Johnson, who co-chairs the Joint Committee on Capital Improvement, says the deal could create thousands of new jobs.
“Right now, there’s a little over 5,000 individuals both direct and indirectly currently working in the port. The proposal has the potential to grow that in the near years to over 12,000 direct and indirect jobs,” he said.
The deal must be approved by the Diamond State Port Corporation Board of Directors and state lawmakers. The board is set to debate the agreement next Friday at the Chase Center in Wilmington.
State Sen. Robert Marshall (D-Wilmington) passed legislation in 2013 that guaranteed a public review of any port deal with private buyers. Marshall and State Rep. Charles Potter (D-Wilmington) are calling for fully transparent and public evaluation of the proposal.