Outside of boarding a cruise ship, you likely don’t give much thought to ports. But this is an area of infrastructure that delivers so much to your daily life. In 2014 (the last year with data available), U.S. ports hosted $4.6 trillion in economic value worth of activity. Ports are the gateway to global trade, and in the process create jobs and support communities. Today is the Western Hemisphere’s Ports Day, created to spread the message of the value ports deliver.
Millions of tons of food, clothing, medicine, fuel and building materials, as well as consumer electronics and toys, move through Western Hemisphere seaports every day. As an integral link in the freight network, port infrastructure needs the other parts of the system to be functioning well. The first and last mile leading to and from a port are crucial to the ability for a port to move goods. In the 2013 Report Card, ports received a “C” grade. Since then, the FAST Act created a national freight program, which will help prioritize road and rail projects that improve the movement of goods around the country. In addition to the success of FAST Act, Congress is currently considering a water resources bill which could provide policy changes to help the way ports receive federal funding. The Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) can help maintain and build new ports projects that facilitate important commerce activities.
Many ports are making investments to upgrade their offerings and be able to welcome larger ships, which are all #GameChangers for the industry. Another key part to increasing funding for modernization is the next Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Congress is making progress toward a bill. If passed this year, it would be back on track for a two-year cycle, which helps provide project certainty and makes the costs of projects manageable. In addition to passing a new WRDA, Congress also has the opportunity to fully appropriate the funds of Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, and put that money toward its intended purpose of dredging.
On Ports Day, port leaders from across the hemisphere are gathering in Washington, D.C. for their Annual Spring Conference to discuss how to can best manage increasing freight volumes and remain successful in a dynamic global economy, among other challenges. Most importantly, the group will also continue collaboration on ways the industry can lead the way in terms of job creation and economic growth.
We’re proud to join hundreds of Western Hemisphere seaports in celebration of Ports Day. On behalf of workers, farmers, employers, manufacturers and consumers everywhere, ports are truly united for the future. For further discussion on the role of Ports in our economy, consider attending the Ports Conference in June in New Orleans.