Port Of Chehalis

Since 1986

History of The Port of Chehalis

Organized in 1986, The Port of Chehalis is one of the newest Ports established in Washington State. However, organized industrial development in the community first began in the early 1950’s as the Chehalis Community was facing heavy economic downturns. The Community decided to do something about this. Hundreds of local citizens gathered to share the common goal of building a better community. For more than a year they collectively decided what the local priorities were for making a better Chehalis and they set out to make those priorities a reality. The local residents knew that in order to preserve their quality of life, they would have to become proactive in economic development.

In efforts to provide leadership for this objective, a group of local Chehalis businessmen formed a group known as the “Industrial Commission”.  It was in 1957 when this group had persuaded Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. to build the first large manufacturing plant in the future industrial park.  This was a major project requiring rail access for its operations, which was not available to the site at the time. The main railroad (Northern Pacific) had joined with three other railroads to build/rebuild over 14,000 feet of track. All that was left was to bring the rail the last half mile to the new plant. To accomplish this, about sixty Chehalis volunteers raised the money needed by selling railroad ties for $4.00 each to local residents. Volunteer teams worked mainly on weekends to lay the remaining track to the new plant. This effort was touted by the Northern Pacific Railroad as a "good example of the progressive, friendly approach to business that you will find" along the railroad's Northwest areas. When asked why Goodyear chose Chehalis for its operations, company officials claimed the overriding factor was “the soaring spirit and vitality of its citizens”.

Almost thirty years later, that same civic spirit toward attaining new levels of employment and prosperity was again exemplified with the formation of a Port District in Chehalis. On September 26, 1986, the first elected Port District Commissioners sworn-in were Mr. Bill Brooks, manager of a brick and tile manufacturing company, Mr. Ed Pemerl, owner of a boot and shoe repair shop, and Mr. Bill Wiester, retired county sheriff  The District's first comprehensive plan encouraged the economic vitality of the Port District in working with present business and industry as well as acquiring and developing properties within the Port District to assist and enhance new and existing business and industry.

From its start the Port and the surrounding Industrial Park have grown to be a major player in Lewis County's economic development. More than 50 businesses employ over 2,300 workers within the Port and Industrial Park. Major corporations such as Hardel Mutual Plywood, Cresline Northwest, Fred Meyer Regional Distribution Center, Mohawk Carpets, National Frozen Foods, Cascade Hardwoods, Cardinal Glass and Aluminite call the Port of Chehalis home. The Port district consists of over 785 acres with more than 250 acres available for new industrial development. With a location central to Portland and Seattle markets, immediate entry to I-5, rail accessible properties, and close proximity to one of Washington's three year round major East-West transportation corridors, postures the Port to effectively address the transportation needs of many businesses.

The Port of Chehalis strives to attract new employment and prosperity to our area. The Port joins with the Lewis County Economic Development Council, The City of Chehalis, and Lewis County government to seek out the Port of Chehalis. Unlike in 1957, today's economic development environment at the Port of Chehalis is enhanced by monetary incentives and tax credits for qualifying businesses. The Port's Comprehensive Plan is the driving force behind the efforts to deliver "shovel ready" property for new businesses.