As economic engines of our communities, port authorities find themselves somewhat challenged. Local residents look for us to focus on our core mission to stimulate economic growth and create jobs in our communities, our port tenants and customers look for us to make investments to help them grow their business. Recognizing the large capital requirements for these investments and the limited availability of funds, we typically look for ways to help us leverage our investments to promote economic growth. But funding availability is limited from traditional sources.
Given the state of fiscal affairs and the political climate of the past year, 2012 will be a challenging year for all of us in terms of infrastructure funding. Some will be fortunate and see navigable waterways dredged, and others will find a way to finance necessary investments through cash flow. But our industry’s overall needs far exceed available funding. The trick will be to somehow find a way to get it done.
I continue to champion alternative investment strategies that would result in public-private partnerships between the capital marketplace and publicly owned port assets. These partnerships would provide financial management of downside risks, sharing of upside benefits and create a stable path for continued economic growth. These partnerships certainly make sense but the uncertainty created by our current political climate has been a major hurdle in the creation of these partnerships.
We must all work together in 2012 to find common ground to allow us to begin to make necessary investments in our nation’s infrastructure to promote economic growth and allow our nation’s economy to continue to recover, grow, prosper and compete within the global marketplace.