2009 may be the most economically challenging year in a long time. But along with the economic challenges and the give and take of upcoming negotiations with the International Longshoremen’s Association, our industry also needs to remain focused on those issues central to keeping our ports vital and ready for the recovery. That means not only improving our throughput and minimizing our environmental impact, but also investing in our infrastructure.
Therefore, one of the biggest and most critical challenges we can address at this time, while we watch our federal government bail out banks and our states struggle to launch a myriad of economic stimulus packages, is to focus local and national legislative attention on our industry. We are a consumer nation, and the economic activity generated by international trade is more than a quarter of the value of all of U.S. economic activity.
We support millions of U.S. jobs, generate billions in personal income, and create tax revenue for local, state and federal government in the tens of billions; tax revenue not only necessary for the recovery but for the years ahead. So as we work to improve our efficiency, build our facilities, and negotiate our labor contracts, we need government to invest significant resources in transportation infrastructure that will play a vital role in our nation’s road to recovery.
We must remind our legislative leaders that if the federal government wants to see lasting results, the best investment is in the vital infrastructure that supports ports, the economic engine of this country. Whether it is dredging, highways, rail or bridges, infrastructure investment will produce the best return. That is the message we need to convey. That is our challenge.