President Obama, recently announced during the second leg of his “Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour,” a new initiative that will cut through red tape and work towards reducing the time it takes to approve infrastructure projects in half. This is good news for many of the projects all around the country that have been delayed in in moving forward in the past due to government complacency. This announcement couldn’t have come at a better time as the Panama Canal expansion is set to be completed sometime in 2015.
During his speech, the United States’ President made reference to the urgency when he stated, “The Panama Canal is being revamped down in Panama so that it can accommodate even bigger ships and these cargo ships are so big that if we don’t remodel our ports here in the United States they can’t dock at our ports and they’ll dock someplace else and we’ll lose that business so we’ve got to up or game when it comes to infrastructure and the good news is that when you do that you are putting people back to work right away… and you’re also laying the foundation for future economic growth.”
In the past, the U.S. has made huge infrastructure investments to stimulate their economy and it is most crucial at this time, in the ever-changing and growing global economy, that they do so again or else they run the risk of not being able to compete effectively when the global economy kicks into high gear in the next few years. The President acknowledged that he wants to “put people back to work improving our roads, our bridges, our airports, our ports.” He further articulated that
“Our workers are at their best when we’re building stuff.”
The United States actually has little choice but to take these measures to speed up the upgrading and modernizing of shipping port infrastructures. In fact, it still may be a little late for some ports to be ready for 2015 but, at this stage with these announcements, it gives them some hope that at least they can get started at it; sooner than later. President Obama is absolutely correct when he says that the new big giant post-panamax shipping vessels will dock somewhere else if they can’t use many American ports, simply because of their enormous size. It’s a no-brainer. In order for more U.S. ports to handle the massive cargo ships they have to be capable.
The Port of Los Angeles is the busiest container port in the United States and is hoping it’s going to stay that way after the Panama Canal expansion opens in 2015. It currently ranks in the top 20 in the world for container ports by volume but will be under some increasing competition once the giant new container ships are able to pass through the Panama Canal’s new bigger third lock and thereby gaining greater access to major ports on the east coast of the country.
To ensure they are ready to compete effectively, the port has made huge investments and just recently completed a $370 million channel deepening project that was essential in order to handle even the most gigantic of the new container vessels. Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles stated, “This project was important to us because we understand that in order to compete with ports in the United States and around the world, we’ve got to make investments.” He continued, “And we’ve made US$1.3 billion in investments and some 20,000 jobs to make sure we’re competitive.”
While the port of Los Angeles does it’s best to upgrade to more state-of-the-art facilities, ports on the east coast are also doing their best to dredge their waterways and modernize their ports but have been facing some difficult financial and environmental challenges in order to do so. Ports in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina all recognize the golden economic opportunities once the Panama Canal expansion is complete, but their progress to be able to capitalize on it has been slowed somewhat due to a lack of Federal investment dollars to date. These eastern regions still remain hopeful nonetheless and continue to prepare with the necessary infrastructure improvements needed to compete effectively in the future.
Back on the west coast in Los Angeles, it appears their port is ready now to handle whatever size ship comes their way. They knew what they had to do as far back as 10 years ago when the dredging to deepen the channel first began. The region’s officials certainly made the right investment in their future when they needed to in the past and it paid off over the years by creating thousands of jobs that have contributed tens of millions of dollars into the local economy. Investing is all about enjoying a great investing experience and it appears as though the Port of Los Angeles’s investments will pay off well into the future, as they do their best to remain the country’s busiest container port.
Up until recently, the West coast has been the main beneficiary of the bigger cargo ships from Asia. Now with the expansion of the Panama Canal allowing for larger vessels to pass through, it creates enormous opportunities for ports on the East coast of the United States, allowing them to finally be able to effectively compete with the West coast ports; for more business from the eastern parts of the world. One eastern region in particular, Florida, is quite confident it will be ready to compete, when the time comes.
“If I were running a port on the West Coast, I would be on the alert, because the expansion of the canal is going to benefit the Port of Miami and other ports on this coast.”- Port of Miami sub-director.
The Port of Miami, calling itself the Bridge to the Americas, has been busy the last few years getting prepared to capitalize on the impending global trade opportunities. In doing so, the port has invested more than $2 billion modernizing and upgrading their shipping facilities, to be ready when the Panama Canal expansion is complete. These infrastructure investments have spawned thousands of jobs for the region and helped stimulate Florida’s economy in the process. It is estimated that the port will double it’s capacity in the next five to ten years and will support up to 30,000 jobs, throughout the state.
While it may be too early to accurately predict the changes in global trade routes, some of the major shipping companies have already started to establish agreements with accessible global ports, as the new shipping routes begins to take shape. Port and State officials have been determined to become a port destination of choice for industry leaders when the time comes, and it appears as though the Port of Miami will be ready to compete, when the Panama Canal expansion is finished in 2015.