LA Press Telegram:
Ship it to Savannah
Competition for the ports of L.A. and Long Beach? We need more of it.
Long Beach Press Telegram
What kind of sense does it make to ship cargo from Asia to Long Beach, then truck it through jammed local freeways and across the country to Savannah, Georgia? None, in the view of Savannah port officials, who have tripled their business in the past few years. More power to them.
Savannah's success is more than slightly ironic. As The Wall Street Journal pointed out this week, Savannah's once vibrant commerce in exports of fabrics was all but wiped out in recent years by Asian competition, and now almost all the port's business is from Asia.
Shippers have found that, rather than fighting their way through the congestion in Southern California, they can send some of their smaller, faster ships through the Panama Canal and get cargo the East Coast more quickly than hauling it across the country.
According to the University of Georgia, Savannah's port has created 120,000 jobs paying from $12 an hour to $120,000 a year for warehouse and longshore workers, and generates $1.4 billion a year in tax revenue for the city and state. All this prosperity has attracted the attention of ports elsewhere, eager to cash in on growth in Asian trading averaging 10 percent a year.
Southern California's twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles for many years have sent trade missions of local politicians far and wide to compete for shippers' business. They still send the politicians, first class of course, but the business now is coming in faster than they can handle it.
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Image Woes Shrink Traffic at Port
Business is down 2% at the L.A. facility, partly because of memories of congestion last year.
By Ronald D. White
Times Staff Writer
August 28, 2005
Five years after reestablishing itself as the nation's busiest international trade gateway, the Port of Los Angeles seems to have run aground.
At major ports in North America, booming Asian trade is producing record cargo traffic ( increases of 12% to more than 35% ) and the revenue and jobs that go with it.
But business is sinking at L.A.'s port, down nearly 2% this year, because of a serious image problem created partly by last year's record congestion, which also affected the Long Beach port, and the 2002 labor dispute that shut down West Coast harbors for 11 days.
In addition, the Los Angeles port faces a litany of other problems, observers say. These include internal disarray, unhappy neighbors and delays in dredging and wharf construction projects to accommodate giant containerships that currently go to Long Beach, where cargo volume is nearly 16% ahead of last year's record pace.
Combined, the result has been "a major structural shift in trade patterns," said John Martin, president of Martin Associates, a maritime consulting firm in Lancaster, Pa. "And there does not appear to be a lot of support from the city for the Port of Los Angeles. That is bad."
Los Angeles is at a crossroads, shifting leadership from former Mayor James K. Hahn, who had said the port needed to be a cleaner and better neighbor, to Antonio Villaraigosa, whose agenda has yet to be unveiled. The port's five-year strategic plan is being overhauled, even as it tries to regain its footing.
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