Five-year contract with automaker to generate 200 new jobs

The Wallenius Wilhelmsen vessel Fidelio arrived at the Port of Baltimore recently carrying the first of 50,000 new BMW’s that the auto manufacturer intends to bring through Baltimore each year. This new business for the Port, which was announced in December, is expected to generate about 200 new direct, indirect, and induced jobs.

“BMW’s decision to bring 50,000 vehicles through the Port of Baltimore each year is a tribute to the men and woman who work so hard to make Baltimore one of the best ports in the country,” said Governor O’Malley. “To attract this business in an extremely challenging economy is a tremendous accomplishment. A quality workforce, excellent facilities and a geographic location that is second to none make a winning combination. We thank BMW for both their business and their confidence in the Port of Baltimore.”

About 320 vehicles were aboard the Fidelio when it arrived at the Port Monday evening. BMW will team with Mercedes-Benz under a five-year agreement and use their vehicle processing center at the MPA’s Fairfield/Masonville auto terminal for the new business. Vehicle processing facilities add specific features to cars once they are off-loaded from their ship. Features may include special detailing, audio components, protective coatings or other items. After a vehicle is processed, it is taken to its dealer destination.

BMW has said the deal will help with shipping logistics and will be more cost-efficient as the Port of Baltimore is the closest East Coast port to the Midwest.

“We are pleased to have the first of many BMW and MINI shipments arrive from Germany and the U.K. through the port of Baltimore today – a location that will help streamline the time and distance it takes for our vehicles to reach dealers in the Central Region,” said Jim Goldsmith, National Vehicle Distribution Manager, BMW of North America, LLC. “It’s a win-win partnership, we are able to keep our customers happy by delivering their vehicles quickly and in the highest quality manner and Baltimore benefits from newly created jobs in its already thriving automotive community.”

The deal will provide another boost for the Port of Baltimore’s auto business which has begun to recover following the global economic downturn. The Port’s auto business is down only 1.5 percent from this same time last year. It was down as much as 50 percent in early 2009.

The Port of Baltimore employs about 16,500 workers. Out of about 360 U.S. ports, Baltimore is ranked number one for handling roll on/roll off cargo; trucks; imported forest products; and imported gypsum, sugar and iron ore. The Port of Baltimore is ranked 14th nationally for total foreign cargo tonnage and 12th for total dollar value of cargo. The Port is responsible for about $3.6 billion in personal wage and salary income. Activities at the Port of Baltimore generate about $388 million in state and local taxes.