In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama said that we need to help upgrade America's transportation system because, "in today's global economy, first-class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure."
It's no coincidence that the President explicitly included our nation's ports in the list of resources we need to revitalize to ensure "opportunity for all." Because our ports are truly opportunity multipliers. In addition to the direct employment America's ports sustain managing the critical economic activity of moving freight to and from ships, our ports are economic engines, fueling good jobs--not just on our coasts, but across the country--from manufacturing jobs on land to skilled crew at sea.
And the Obama Administration understands this. In the past few months President Obama, Vice President Biden, and I have toured ports from Maryland to California. We've seen the feverish activity underway as ports prepare for the dramatic changes coming when the newly widened Panama Canal opens.
Last week, Acting Maritime Administrator Chip Jaenichen spoke to the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) Shifting International Trade Routes Seminar about what our Maritime Administration (MARAD) has been doing to help American ports prepare for the new shipping era and for our growing population's growing needs:
"MARAD's StrongPorts initiative aims to improve port capacity, efficiency, and maintenance by providing ports with systematic support in planning and engagement, financing, and project management. Under StrongPorts, MARAD recently entered into a partnership with the AAPA to help our country's ports attract additional public and private capital. Together, we're developing a port investment plan toolkit with information and clear guidelines on identifying future port needs, determining the most cost-effective and sustainable solutions to port problems and the elements needed for successful port investment."
One port that has been working hard to improve its capacity and help put more Americans to work is the Port of Los Angeles, which I toured last week. I want to thank the Port of L.A. for putting together a terrific video from our visit. I hope you'll enjoy their video and get from it a sense of how important our ports and port infrastructure are to our nation's continued economic vitality.