A deal to keep fruit giant Dole at the Port of Wilmington for the next 15 years that was tentatively agreed to in the summer has finally been officially signed.

Dole is the Port of Wilmington's largest customer, importing bananas, pineapples and other fruit, making Wilmington home of the largest fresh fruit import port in North America. Dole exports forest products and other general cargo.

The lease deal with the Port includes 37.7 acres of terminal land and about 100,000 sq. ft. of warehouse and office space.  About 52 Dole ships per year call on the port.  Along with two options to extend the lease by ten years each, the deal should keep Dole at the Port of Wilmington through 2048.

"We have been at the Port of Wilmington for more than 30 years and this agreement with the Diamond State Port Corporation reaffirms our commitment to the people of Delaware, the longshoremen, our employees, vendors and customers," said Stuart Jablon, Vice President and General Manager of Operations for Dole Fresh Fruit.

The deal with Dole will help preserve 850 jobs at the port.  Delaware Governor Jack Markell says the deal will allow the port to continue to "connect our state to the global economy, provide jobs for hard-working Delawareans and ensure a dependable flow of revenue for our economy."

As part of the deal to keep Dole in Delaware, the state has agreed to increase the number of cranes that will load and unload ships, as well as other upgrades to the port.