Friday, February 23, 2018

Seattle Commission Commits $3M for Training

By Karen Robes Meeks

In an effort to tackle the shortage of skilled trades people in the Puget Sound, the Port of Seattle Commission has committed $3 million to expand construction training and job opportunities for those in underrepresented communities. The funding carries out the Priority Hire Policy Directive that commissioners approved last November.

The program seeks to recruit and refer women, minorities and those in low-income neighborhoods to construction pre-apprentice or apprentice training programs; broaden pre-apprenticeship hands-on and classroom training that emphasizes math, safety, and physical conditioning and provide support services such as childcare and transportation for trainees in an effort to remove potential barriers to success.

“Local workers of all backgrounds should benefit from major public construction projects, but the facts tell us that has not been the case. We need a deliberate and regional effort to fix a historical imbalance and give women, minorities and workers from disadvantaged neighborhoods real opportunities,” said Commission President Courtney Gregoire. “Hiring local workers for skilled construction jobs also makes business sense by improving project delivery, lowering project cost, and helping our industries find skilled workers.”

Ports O’ Call Redesign

By Karen Robes Meeks

The designer behind the vision for the popular High Line park in New York will be involved in the project to reimagine Ports O’ Call Village on the San Pedro waterfront.

James Corner Field Operations, which helped to turn an old railway into a 1.45-mile-long park through the west side of Manhattan, will lead landscape design and master planning for the $150 million West Coast project, with Rapt Studio overseeing overall architecture and design, according to Curbed.

The developers The Ratkovich Co. and Jerico Development are expected to unveil new drawings and a schedule of the project, recast as the San Pedro Public Market, on March 20 at a LA Waterfront Town Hall meeting.

The first phase of construction will be completed by 2020, and will feature dining, retail and open green space.

Redwood City Sees Big Increase

By Karen Robes Meeks

In the first six months of its fiscal year, the Port of Redwood City saw 41 percent more cargo moving across its docks compared to the same period a year ago, handling a record 1.2-million metric ton between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2017.

The region’s construction boom is pushing the demand, with building materials arriving mostly from British Columbia to the port, according to Port Executive Director Mike Giari.

The port is projected to surpass its record tonnage from fiscal year 2005, when it moved over 1.9 million metric tons.

The number of ships that called at the port was up as well, from 49 to 79, during the same six-month period.

New Stockton Commission Chair

By Karen Robes Meeks

Sylvester Aguilar has been named chairman of the Port of Stockton Commission, the port has announced. A senior vice president and business banking relationship manager team lead for the Mid-Valley Business Banking Offices of Bank of the West, Aguilar is a Stockton native who serves on the boards of the CSUS College of Business Advisory Board, the Business Council and the Stockton Symphony Circle. He previously served as president of the San Joaquin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Aguilar earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of the Pacific’s Eberhardt School of Business, graduated from Pacific Coast Banking School and finished his graduate work at Golden Gate University.

“I am humbled by the faith and confidence that my peers have placed in me,” Aguilar said. “Serving on the port commission is a distinct honor and I feel privileged and blessed to play a role in ensuring the continuing success of the largest economic driver in our region.”

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Redwood City’s Giari to Retire

By Karen Robes Meeks

Port of Redwood City Executive Director Michael J. Giari is expected to retire sometime in the spring, according to the port.

Giari, who plans to retire on May 1 or when a new leader is in place, has been with the Port of Redwood City since 1988. He started as manager of trade development before being promoted to executive director in 1995. Before coming to the port, Giari was an assistant manager of a major waterfront development project and as a marine transportation planner for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

"Mike has been instrumental in helping the port grow and sustain that growth," Commission Chairman Dick Dodge said. "Tonnage across the port docks has more than tripled since Mike assumed his position in 1995 and the Port has attracted new businesses that benefit Silicon Valley."

Giari also modernized port facilities and enhanced the port's waterfront recreation facilities and opportunities for the community, Dodge said.

Hawaii Harbor Division Bond Rating Rises

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Hawaii Department of Transportation Harbors Division’s revenue bonds Series 2010 A and 2010 B rating went from an “A+” to “AA-” according from Fitch Ratings, which affirmed the upgrade Wednesday.

“Fitch’s upgrade of the Harbor Division’s bond rating – the second over the past two years – is great news and reaffirms the strong fiscal policies for which my administration has advocated,” Gov. David Ige said in a statement. “This allows us to issue our bonds at lower interest rates, increasing our buying power and providing the tools to undertake and complete statewide construction and upgrade projects, like the Kapalama Container Terminal, that ensures the continued delivery of goods that are essential for Hawaii’s communities.”

The upgrade reflects the harbor system’s continued strong financial performance in terms of coverage, liquidity, and leverage, said Harbors Division Deputy Director Darrell Young.

“We’ve focused our attention on changing the manner in which we finance our projects as a means of completing necessary statewide upgrades and construction projects more efficiently,” Young said. “By utilizing a cash financing program, we’ve been able to delay the issuance of new bond debt and to put more of our available funds directly into our Harbor Modernization projects instead of using those funds to pay for additional debt service.”

US Icebreaker Crew Complete Mission

By Karen Robes Meeks

The crew of US Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star recently completed its mission to support of National Science Foundation.

The Polar Star left its Seattle, Washington homeport in November 2017 to help the foundation deliver operating supplies and fuel to research stations in Antarctica during Operation Deep Freeze. The mission involved carving through 15 miles of Antarctic ice in the Ross Sea to create a path for supply ships.

“Although we had less ice this year than last year, we had several engineering challenges to overcome to get to the point where we could position ourselves to moor in McMurdo,” said Capt. Michael Davanzo, the commanding officer of the Polar Star. “Our arrival was delayed due to these challenges, but the crew and I are certainly excited to be here. It’s a unique opportunity for our crewmembers to visit the most remote continent in the world, and in many respects, it makes the hard work worth it.”

During the mission, the Polar Star’s shaft seal failed causing flooding at a rate of approximately 20-gallons per minute. The crew was able to fix the problem and remove the freezing water from the area. Furthermore, after one of the cutter’s three main gas turbines failed, thee crew had to use the cutter’s main gas turbine power to break up the ice using its propellers.

“If the Polar Star were to suffer a catastrophic mechanical failure, the Nation would not be able to support heavy icebreaker missions like Operation Deep Freeze, and our Nation has no vessel capable of rescuing the crew if the icebreakers were to fail in the ice,” said Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, commander, US Coast Guard Pacific Area in Alameda, California. “The crewmembers aboard Polar Star not only accomplished their mission, but they did so despite extreme weather and numerous engineering challenges. This is a testament to their dedication and devotion to duty.”

New Longview Commission President

By Karen Robes Meeks

Jeff Wilson is the new president of the Port of Longview Board of Commissioners.

Wilson – who takes over for Commissioner Doug Averett, who was president last year – will helm the commission “in key decisions regarding Barlow Point, Willow Grove Park and the port’s Industrial Rail Corridor,” according to the port.

“It is an honor to be voted into the position,” said Wilson, who was elected to the board in 2016. “Commissioner Averett did a great job as president, and I look forward to working with my fellow Commissioners as we face the challenges and successes that are part of our business.”

Averett will serve as Board Secretary and Commissioner Bob Bagaason will be Board Vice President.