Photos courtesy of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Like Port of Long Beach (POLB) CEO Jon Slangerup in his State of the Port address last month, 44th District Congresswoman Janice Hahn has dubbed the region’s state of trade and transportation “strong.”
“The state of our trade and transportation sector is strong. I see a bright future for our ports and our region,” said Hahn at the third annual “State of the Trade and Transportation” Luncheon hosted by the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce last week.
Hahn addressed a crowd of 470 guests at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach on Friday, where she discussed both the success and struggles of the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports, along with greener, more sustainable prospects.
“The ports of L.A. and Long Beach are truly America’s ports,” Hahn said. “They handle a whopping 40 percent of all imports and 70 percent of the trade from Asia. 4.7 million jobs across the country rely on the work done at our two ports.”
The POLB alone supports 30,000 jobs in the city, 316,000 jobs across Southern California and generates $16 billion worth of trade related wages throughout the state, according to Hahn. Last year, it saw its most successful year since the recession, handling 7.2 million twenty foot equivalent units (TEU). Both the L.A. and Long Beach ports are able to accommodate “megaships”—cargo ships that hold more than 13,000 TEUs. According to Hahn, neither the revamped Panama Canal nor the East Coast ports can handle such ships.
As megaships become the shipping norm, both ports will have to do more dredging in their already naturally deep headquarters to allow safe maneuvering. As chair of the Ports Caucus, Hahn hopes to aid the dredging and maintenance of the harbors by using money collected from the Harbor Maintenance Tax.
Hahn also discussed the challenges the “outdated” technical training courses are causing in the shipping industry. She’s pledged to work with community college presidents and the state legislature in granting curriculum flexibility to help students keep pace with industry needs.
“I am hearing from industry leaders is that there are not enough qualified applicants with the skills to fill these jobs in our industry,” she said. “The ‘skills gap’ in our nation’s workforce is standing in the way of progress in this industry and it is something that we will have to address at the local and national levels.”
Lastly, Hahn stressed the importance of building greener ports and transportation sector. Communities like Long Beach and San Pedro, in 2011, saw childhood asthma rates nearly double the national average at 21 percent, she said.
According to Hahn, both the L.A. and Long Beach ports have dedicated themselves to fixing the problems and have cut diesel particulate matter by more than 70 percent over the last several years.
“At the State of the Port of Long Beach address I heard Jon Slangerup indicate that he will not be happy until the port meets their goal of becoming the first zero-emissions port, and neither will I,” Hahn said. “This is a goal within reach. With new technology available every day, we no longer have to choose between good jobs and clean air. We can have both.”