Putting the spotlight on infrastructure and our industry
Through the years we’ve had a powerful lineup of elected officials visit the Port of New Orleans. As the epicenter of one of the world’s busiest port complexes, the Lower Mississippi River, it makes sense why leaders choose the Port as a backdrop to address the nation on important policy regarding transportation infrastructure.
And as members of the maritime and international trade community, we welcome the opportunity to put the focus on our port and our industry.
When President Barack Obama visited the Port of New Orleans in 2013, he toured the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal and, with our post-Panamax gantry cranes in the background, he spoke to the nation about the importance of growing the nation’s economy through increased exports. He also noted the importance of Louisiana’s maritime industry not just to the region and the state, but to the nation and the world.
This past February the President’s second-in-command Vice President Joe Biden paid us a visit. He got a first-hand tour of the Port’s new Mississippi River Intermodal Terminal before making remarks commemorating the seventh anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The Vice President said many people do not understand the importance of the nation’s ports and stressed the role the Port of New Orleans plays in the U.S. economy.
“You have been the economic heart of America for more than two centuries, connecting the agriculture and industrial power of Middle America to the rest of the country and the world,” Vice President Biden said.
He noted the impact of federal investments made into the Port with the $16.7 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to build the 12-acre Mississippi River Intermodal Terminal, which began operating in March. (See our cover story in this issue for more details.)
In his remarks during the Vice President’s visit, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards reaffirmed his commitment to investing in Port infrastructure in Louisiana. He pledged to double the state’s investment in the Louisiana Port Construction and Development Priority Program in the upcoming fiscal year.
“This will be the largest single-year investment in the Louisiana Port Priority Program in eight years,” Gov. Edwards said. “We are committed to investing in our ports and transportation infrastructure to help move Louisiana forward.”
It’s clear that people at our nation’s and state’s highest levels understand the economic benefits of international trade. At the Port of New Orleans we will continue do our part to sustain our growth and fulfill our role in the regional, state and national economy. This year, we will update our economic impact report, embark on an ambitious new master plan to determine the best investments and facilities, and apply for the next round of TIGER grants to help support those investments.
Infrastructure on the docks, on our highways and throughout our waterways are important to us all. As industry leaders, we must also continue to spread that message to policymakers, lawmakers, community leaders and educators — at all levels — if we are to continue to compete and achieve success globally.
Gary P. LaGrange, PPM
President and CEO