PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Department of Transportation has picked Atlanta-based Americold to construct and operate a refrigerated storage facility at the city’s International Marine Terminal where Icelandic shipper Eimskip operates.
Americold won out over one other bidder who responded to the DOT’s search for a company to build a refrigerated storage facility for imports and exports of seafood and other refrigerated and frozen products.
Ted Talbot, spokesman for the DOT, said the department will start negotiations with Americold on terms and operational agreements for the facility that it would manage.
John Henshaw, executive director of the Maine Port Authority, said Americold is a global leader in the cold storage industry.
“Its interest in the IMT for a new location is a testament to the strategic value of the port of Portland and to Maine’s food and beverage industry that will benefit from this facility,” Henshaw said.
The DOT said Americold operates 175 different facilities in six countries, with 145 of those facilities across 38 U.S. states, and does business at other locations with shipper Eimskip.
The request for proposals from the Maine DOT calls for construction of the cold storage facility on 6.3 acres just west of the Casco Bay Bridge, which it acquired from Northern Utilities in 2014.
Talbot said that the construction timeline likely will be a part of negotiations to come.
The proposal anticipated that the existing natural gas and propane distribution operation there would stop in the summer of 2016 and that the extension a rail line to the marine terminal would be completed this fall. The proposal called for construction of the cold storage facility to be finished by the summer of 2017.
The proposal cited increasing regional demand for cold storage to meet needs of food producers and a growing population in Greater Portland.
“Eimskip’s growing container traffic and plans to further expand Maine’s food production justify the need for a new cold storage facility,” the proposal stated. “The population and food industry is growing in southern Maine, especially in Portland, and current cold storage options are limited.”
For reaching international markets, the DOT has said the expanded facilities hold economic benefit for companies across the state.
“These sort of smart investments in logistical capability are how we make Maine more competitive and help businesses create jobs throughout Maine, from Portland to Aroostook and Washington counties,” said Maine Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt in a news release.
Americold’s bid involved proving it had the financial capacity and expertise to undertake the project, but specific financial details have not been ironed out, Talbot said.
The proposal from the DOT notes that the project could qualify for state business incentive programs, including tax increment financing, state and federal new markets tax credits and Pine Tree Zone incentives.