Car center could bring 1,193 jobs to Vancouver

VANCOUVER - An international shipping company wants to bring a giant vehicle distribution center to the Port of Vancouver that would employ as many as 1,193 workers.

On Tuesday, port officials signed a letter of intent with Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics Americas to develop the $453 million f acility that would dwarf the port's existing Subaru operation and match the Port of Portland's auto business.

Wallenius Wilhelmsen would build a marine terminal and processing facility on 344 acres of land that the port would make construction ready, according to the deal.

The facility, projected to generate a $62 million annual payroll, could be operational by late 2010 or 2011.

Wallenius Wilhelmsen is the second tenant recently named to occupy a spot in Columbia Gateway, 544 acres of land on the port's western boundary that the commissioners have pushed for decades to develop.

Marc Rappaport, owner of the energy company, signed a letter of intent with the port two weeks ago to build a $210 million ethanol plant in the Gateway property.

Unlike other proposed plants in the region, it would be fueled by a wood waste feedstock and not grain products.

The two major announcements come weeks before the public will vote on a tax increase the port says is critical to develop Columbia Gateway and keeping both deals alive.

Larry Patella, a critic of the proposed tax increase, said in an e-mail Tuesday that the announcements appear timed to influence the election. He is also skeptical about the job projections.