2023 marked record cargo numbers for the Port of Los Angeles, as it celebrates its 23rd consecutive year as the busiest container port in the US.
In January, Gene Seroka, Executive Director of the Port of LA, gave his annual State of the Port of LA address. He announced priorities for 2023 and a firm commitment to progressing initiatives that “make the future equitable, prosperous, and sustainable.” Here’s what you need to know from the State of the Port address.
How did the Port of LA fare in 2022?
Dubbed a “silver medal year”, 2022 had the second-highest cargo volume in the Port’s 115-year history — almost 10 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).
Though unprecedented volumes were recorded, there was a slight decline from 2021 after imports dropped in the latter half of the year. A number of factors were cited, particularly the early peak shipping season and national import reduction, compounded by ongoing labor unrest. Though the silver lining is port congestion at the LA and Long Beach ports has finally cleared.
Looking to 2023, Seroka says the major priorities will be furthering economic growth and job creation, improving the quality of life for local communities, and continuing to prioritize sustainability.
Economic growth and job creation
Job creation continues to be a focus for the Port of LA with the announcement of a new multi-entity collaborative focused on what Seroka has termed “workforce infrastructure.” The Port has reaffirmed its commitment to developing career opportunities for a diverse range of workers and increasing economic prosperity.
Most notable is the plan to further its Goods Movement Training Campus dedicated to worker skill development, upskilling, and reskilling for port-specific jobs and greener tech. This is a first-of-its-kind initiative in collaboration with the Port of Long Beach and the California Workforce Development Board.
To further enhance job creation, a framework for a Port of Los Angeles Workforce Initiative will be established, which aims to train people who are unemployed, including veterans or those experiencing homelessness. Seroka said, “our Workforce Initiative will serve as a road map to fill the training and recruiting needs that exist today, as well as guide us as we navigate the needs of the future.”
Seroka added the Port will support the stabilization of America’s global trade through leadership in technological innovation. New features in its digital tracking portal, Port Optimizer™, will afford U.S. exporters much-desired cost reductions. Those features include a new efficiency-enhancing truck reservation system and a warehouse digital module that allows greater warehousing visibility when scheduling deliveries.
Improving community quality of life
Last year saw a notable increase in cruise activity at the Port of LA as the industry bounced back from the pandemic. 229 cruise departures were logged in 2022 — the most since 2008 — compared with just 61 the previous year. During his address, Seroka acknowledged an economic benefit of “quarter billion dollars to our local communities and LA’s tourism economy.” Equal, if not greater, departure numbers are expected in the coming months while the cruise industry recovers.
Furthermore, a number of LA waterfront projects have been slated as part of the Port’s 10-year Public Access Investment Plan (PAIP). Since 2015, the PAIP has funded nearly $234 million in new public-servicing waterfront infrastructure, new roadways, public promenades, and other amenities. Such investment intends to active public spaces that support community quality of life.
Furthering zero-emission operations
The top priority in 2023 is the urgent decarbonization of the maritime industry. The Port is joining a statewide coalition that will apply for a $1.4 billion U.S. Department of Energy grant to establish a green hydrogen hub at the San Pedro Bay Port Complex. The coalition forms part of the Port’s long-term sustainability efforts: achieving zero-emission cargo-handling equipment by 2030 and zero-emission trucks by 2035.
Planning continues for new Green Shipping Corridors with the ports of Shanghai and Singapore to promote clean fuel usage and reduce emissions along these trade routes. Similarly, additional clean trucks funded by the Clean Truck Fund Rate will be deployed as a part of the continued development and utilization of zero-emission cargo handling.
“We need to help accelerate the [zero-emission] market and fast-track the production of those trucks,” Seroka stressed. Zero-emissions trucks are not only unavailable commercially, said Seroka, but also cost-prohibitive.
Estimates suggest they may cost eight to 10 times more than older diesel trucks, many of which are no longer able to run on Californian roads. If the industry is to meet Seroka’s call, ample electric and hydrogen fueling infrastructure must be in place.
Final thoughts on the State of the Port address
As the ports cleared up in 2022, there’s a positive outlook on growth for 2023 with many projects in the works and new opportunities. And while the Port of LA has outlined many ambitious initiatives, it continues to adapt despite economic uncertainty and zero-emissions pressure.
If you’re looking for an experienced partner to help introduce new systems or provide top-notch logistics management, warehousing, and intermodal options — GlobeCon is the 3PL partner for you.
Get in touch with the experts at GlobeCon, your partner at the Port of LA.