The Port of Brownsville proved resilient amid a global pandemic and economic challenges with a record-setting 2020, moving 11.2 million short tons of diverse cargo with operating revenues of $41 million.
The unaudited operating revenues eclipsed FY 2019’s high watermark of $25.4 million. The port also saw record levels of railcar movements at 51,115, marking a 24 percent increase from the 41,207 railcar movements recorded in 2019.
“The port never lost sight of its responsibility in serving as a global gateway for commerce and a critically important economic engine and job creator for our community,” said Brownsville Navigation District Chairman Sergio Tito Lopez. “Our tenants, customers and port staff performed with distinction during these difficult times, setting the pace for excellence in 2020.”
Foreign Trade Zone No. 62 celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2020 as one of the nation’s best, reaching number 2 for the value of exports at $4.3 billion, setting another record. Imports rose to 18th with $4.6 billion. This marks the eight year in a row FTZ No. 62 has ranked among the top-three out of 193 FTZs nationwide.
Investments in major infrastructure improvements continued in 2020 with the purchase of two new mobile harbor cranes to expand cargo-handling capabilities, construction of the South Port Connector Road, the opening of Liquid Cargo Dock 6, road enhancements and continued expansion of patios and laydown yards. The port also resumed exporting grains via vessel shipping locally harvested sorghum to China, creating new international market opportunities for South Texas farming families. This resulted in the port receiving a $14.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation aimed at improving railroad, road and ship-loading infrastructure at the Bulk Cargo Dock to expand grain operations.
Keppel AmFELS, the only major Jones Act shipbuilding yard in Texas, successfully landed a pair of noteworthy contracts to add to its production lines: the construction of the largest hopper dredge in the U.S. and construction of the first Jones Act compliant offshore wind turbine installation vessel. These projects are estimated to bring hundreds of good-paying industrial jobs to the region.
A new container-on-barge service opened in August connecting shippers and customers in the Rio Grande Valley and in Northern Mexico with those across Florida and the Southeastern United States. And adding to the port’s 2020 record book were 21 wind energy projects, including the largest windmill blades ever imported to the U.S. at 250-feet long.