PORTLAND (WGME) -- Decades, that's how long it has been since Portland has been a major port of call in the cargo shipping industry but now that's all changing.
In a sea of economic setbacks for the people of Maine, Portland's ship has finally come in, literally. Eimskip, an Icelandic cargo shipping company, is moving its port of call from Norfolk, Virginia to Portland.
Laurus Isfeld, Eimskip: "We're operating 17 vessels in the north Atlantic, moving three million tons of freight." Larus Isfeld says Eimskip chose Portland, in part, to start shipping seafood to and from Maine and northern Europe.
Isfeld: "It's portland's rich history as a seafood hub and the fact that no other steamship line is servicing the area, that's what makes Portland a unique opportunity."
Portland Mayor Michael Brennan: "What's happening today is exactly what we wanted to have happen. To have a major business come to the city of Portland and to all of a sudden open up markets to, businesses throughout the region in ways that we haven't in the past."
This also creates an entirely new shipping and transportation hub right here in Maine, linking the northeast to Canada, Iceland and Europe.
Pan Am Railways will ship cargo for Eimskip both to and from companies throughout the United States. It will also mean new jobs for Maine's trucking industry. Entire truck beds will be held at the international terminal, then loaded onto the cargo ships.
Expect a lot of activity in the next month getting this terminal ready for Eimskip. By the way, the first cargo ships are expected to arrive in March.
Maine exports are already up 25% over the last five years and this is expected to increase exports. This will also open up new markets for Maine's forestry and agricultural products. And Maine's small businesses will also now be able to ship products directly to Europe.