Photo by Sarah Bennett
Bigger ships, advanced cranes and better air quality were among the improvements Port of Long Beach’s Acting Executive Director Al Moro said he anticipated in the next year at the annual State of the Port address.
Presented with a morning breakfast Thursday, an audience of more than 700 at the Westin Long Beach Hotel heard Moro give the annual update on the challenges, improvements, and the future for the Port of Long Beach.
Moro said that by investing in high-tech cranes and being “big-ship ready,” the port has pushed itself ahead of other competition coming from other ports in Panama, Mexico, Canada, and the east coast.
“Two years ago, we leaped ahead of other U.S. ports when the first 14,000 TEU [twenty-foot equivalent units] port came to the Port of Long Beach,” Moro said. Last year, he said that three more came to the port and the port is now aiming to surpass more than 7 million TEUs in the next two years.
“Few other seaports in North America are big-ship ready, but we’re ready now,” he said. “That makes us more competitive, bringing more business and more jobs to our community.”
Moro said that the Port provides 30,000 jobs in Long Beach, 300,000 regionally, and 1.5 million nationally. Cargo numbers have also increased by 11.3 percent last year, which has lead to more jobs, Moro said.
With the increase in cargo having created more jobs and productivity, Moro said that the port has recovered “four times faster” from the recession compared the U.S. economy and “putting the recession behind us,” he said.
“As our national economy rebounds, it’s essential that our port remain competitive, and we maintain a global presence,” said Vice Mayor Robert Garcia, who spoke before Moro.
As part of its goal of improving the air quality in Long Beach, the Port is aiming to be the first zero-emission powered port. Moro said that the Port has already invested $175 million in reducing port-generated pollution and has seen an 81% decrease of diesel emissions from port-related sources since 2005.
“You can see and breathe the difference,” he said.
Moro said that these improvements were a result of some simple changes like slowing ships so that they can run cleaner. “Some predicted that we’d scare away business, but we persisted in pushing for cleaner fuels, trucks, trains, tugs, and ships,” he said.
Harbor Commission President Doug Drummond said that although the Port is still searching for a permanent executive director, Moro has done a “spectacular” job overseeing the Port of Long Beach.
“Now, our No. 1 priority of the Port remains to complete our projects under construction, on time and on budget, so that we can all benefit from these massive improvements,” Drummond said.
Under Moro’s management, cargo numbers are up, and exports are “the best in the history of this port,” Drummond said.