While the maritime industry remains optimistic about long-term economic recovery, 2010 will be another challenging year for ports worldwide as we work our way through this recession.
Our top priority will be to increase international trade and expand port-related jobs. But we also must reduce port-related air pollution and other environmental impacts. While we are all seeking ways to trim costs and streamline operations, our ports need to move ahead, despite the recession, with projects to upgrade facilities and operations. The recession is pushing us harder to innovate and remain competitive.
Cargo volume will rebound, and when it does, U.S. seaports must be ready to meet the needs of shipping in the 21st century. That means aggressively moving forward with critical infrastructure projects, both at our seaports and on the roadways; working with our stakeholders to develop and employ new, improved technologies; and remaining steadfast in our commitment to environmental stewardship.
We can’t grow without the support of the communities in which we operate, and our neighbors rightfully demand that our operations are green. Ports that have made this commitment are well-positioned for growth. Our communities will support the jobs and economic activity seaports bring, but only as long as we are committed to reducing environmental impacts, particularly when it comes to harmful air pollution.
Although the economic slowdown has meant less work for those in port services, these global infrastructure, environmental and technology upgrade programs will bring millions of new, permanent jobs in the long term, plus thousands of temporary jobs for construction and contracting firms in the short term.
The recession is no time to hold back. We must continue to invest in the ports of the future today.