Tyson Seafood Group's new vessel maintenance and support facility has opened at the Port of Tacoma in the United States. Tyson announced its plans to move its vessel maintenance and support activities to the port in August last year. The port invested US$5.4 million to build a structure and upgrade two structures for Tyson. The two renovated buildings encompass 69,900 sq ft and the new structure is 30,000 sq ft. Tyson signed a 10-year lease with the port that includes the buildings, four acres of land and nearly 2,400 feet of dockside moorage at piers 24 and 25. At peak periods, the facility is expected to employ up to 200 people. 'This is the only hub for our fleet,' Roy Brown, senior vice-president of Tyson, said. That fact is significant for the economic benefits it will produce in Pierce county. 'We're currently doing business with about 64 new vendors in Pierce,' Mr Brown said. 'That number will probably exceed 100 vendors within a year or two.' Tyson buys about $32 million in goods and services each year. Mr Brown said the company was committed to growing its seafood business and changing the way people in the US eat. An average of 70 pounds of chicken per person in the US was eaten annually, he said. Fish consumption averaged about 15 pounds per person. 'Our aim is to mirror our success with poultry in the seafood business,' Mr Brown said. Tyson would focus on developing new products that were convenient, nutritious and that fitted the lifestyles of consumers, he said. In welcoming Tyson to Tacoma, port commissioner Jerry Thorpe said the company was an important addition to the port. 'It's another example of the port's Alaska connection,' Mr Thorpe said. 'Tyson operates one of the largest fishing fleets in the North Pacific and much of its activity takes place in Alaska.'