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Friday, Jan 27, 2023
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Port’s Course Serves Commerce, Community

The Port of San Diego — your port — enhances the region’s economic vitality and quality of life in ways that extend well beyond our bay-front. Consider some recent actions.

The California Coastal Commission unanimously approved the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan, and the Board of Port Commissioners approved a 24½-year lease renewal for Dole Fresh Fruit Co. at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, TAMT.

The board is considering certification of an environmental impact report for the proposed San Diego Convention Center expansion.

A larger convention center will contribute more to our quality of life. A proven economic engine, the center supports 12,500 jobs. The expansion would add nearly 7,000. In addition, it would enhance the waterfront, with park and open space to accommodate community events.

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Integrated Development

The Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan exemplifies the port’s support for integrated waterfront development, balancing recreational, commercial, residential, parks and wildlife reserves.

When completed, the bay front’s three hotels, conference center, multifamily housing, RV park, restaurants, office and commercial buildings, along with parks, nature trails and wildlife reserve will stand out as a model project and an innovative public-private partnership.

To the casual observer, TAMT may not appear to be busy because its hours of operation aren’t 9 to 5. But it is busy — 185 million bananas a month is a lot of bananas.

TAMT moves goods, and it moves the military. As one of only 17 strategic ports in the nation, it is a vital military asset. And deploying Marines and sailors often have their cargo shipped out through TAMT.

The region’s second cargo terminal is the National City Marine Terminal (NCMT). One of every 10 imported cars on the nation’s roads came through NCMT.

The two terminals meet distinct cargo needs, both are vibrant and vital.

That’s imports, but exports are also a hot topic. Every $1 billion in export volume creates 15,000 high-paying jobs. So your port is focusing on export capacity, working with partners including the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, World Trade Center San Diego and San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. Together, we will increase exports and create more jobs.

Why is it “your port?” The state of California decrees that our natural deep-water harbor, infrastructure and all port tidelands are held in trust for the benefit of the state’s citizens.

Your port is an economic engine with a total annual impact of $9.6 billion, supporting 19,000 working waterfront jobs. These jobs have annual wages and benefits averaging more than $60,000.

Your port is the largest noncontainer port in the state and one of the top 20 largest cruise ship ports in the nation.

Your port is about recreation, with 18 dedicated parks. That is unique among ports nationwide.

Your port is about public safety and homeland security.

Your port is also about the environment. The “Green Port” program is realizing long-term environmental, societal and economic benefits through resource conservation, waste reduction and pollution prevention. That, too, is quite a balancing act for a busy regional asset.

The port district is making these big things happen to benefit the five port cities with an impact that extends regionwide. Only a district spanning jurisdictions can balance maritime, real estate, environment, recreation, defense, fisheries and innovation. Only a district can make all these big things happen … especially since financial rating agency Fitch Ratings recently upgraded the port’s outlook to A+ Stable.

All the big things add up to one simple reality — your port at work for you.

Lou Smith is chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners

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