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Executive Director's Message

Records are falling at the Port of Oakland. Business volume is surging. As we enter 2017 you might say we're on a roll. That's the message we're sending in this year-end report to stakeholders. Consider the evidence:

  • We reported record revenue of $338 million in Fiscal Year 2016.
  • Seaport loaded container volume reached a record 1.8 million TEUs for the calendar year.
  • A record 3 million visitors came to Jack London Square during the year.
  • Oakland International Airport has reached a record high of 62 nonstop destinations.

And we expect continued growth in the coming year.  But here's what pleases me most: the impact of this momentum is being felt beyond the Port's boundaries.  Neighboring communities are benefiting from the Port of Oakland’s success.  For example, in 2016, the Port:

  • adopted a new Project Labor Agreement ensuring local residents get a sizable number of the jobs we create;
  • conducted seminars for small, local businesses to help them bid on Port contracts;
  • made direct contact with more than 10,000 neighbors, customers and business partners to make sure we’re addressing their needs.

Geography gives the Port of Oakland a competitive advantage.  We’re the closest container port to California’s Central Valley where growers export agricultural commodities to Asia.  We’re on the balmier side of San Francisco Bay where weather doesn’t interfere with airport takeoffs and landings.  We’re also in the heart of booming Oakland where there’s huge demand for office space.

But geography also invests us with unique responsibility.  Unlike U.S. competitors, our seaport, airport and commercial real estate operations aren’t tucked away in some industrial backwater.  We’re in the Oakland mainstream.  You can see us quite easily.  You can also get up close to us.  We’re just over the fence – a freeway, really – from residential and commercial neighborhoods.  That’s why responsible citizenship is at the core of everything we do.  We want to be good neighbors.

The Port of Oakland doesn’t have shareholders.  There’s no owner expecting a dividend.  Everything we earn is plowed back into the business to grow Oakland’s economy and create jobs.  That’s part of being a good neighbor.

It’s estimated that more than 70,000 jobs are dependent on the Port of Oakland.  We see that number growing very soon.  Some examples:

Construction is scheduled to begin in February 2017 on our 280,000-square-foot Cool Port.  This will be a temperature-controlled facility where chilled or frozen meat is prepared for export.  The developers anticipate the project will create more than 250 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs.

Negotiations could conclude in the first quarter of 2017 over plans to build a 30-acre Seaport Logistics Complex.  This would include warehouses where more commodities would be loaded for export or import.  There’s no telling yet what the jobs impact will be.  But it’s a safe bet that the number will again be in the hundreds.

These developments will attract additional cargo volume to Oakland.  Cool Port alone is expected to generate an additional 30,000 containers a year.  A rule of thumb is that for every extra 1,000 containers moving through the Port, eight new jobs are created.

Simple math tells us that these projects can have positive impact on employment.  But that’s not the end of the story.  As good neighbors, we have to look at other impacts, as well.  For instance, what will an increase in our business do to traffic?  Or air quality?  And will job benefits really favor Oakland workers?

We devoted much of 2016 addressing those questions.  We brought the community into our deliberations.  Our conclusion: We will continue to pursue growth.  But it’s got to be good growth.  For instance, while we grew jobs in 2016, we also announced a 76 percent reduction in the Port’s diesel emissions.  Truck emissions were nearly erased – down 98 percent.  A good news/good news story.

Any way you measure it, 2016 was a successful year at the Port of Oakland.  Our job now: build on that momentum in 2017 with the same game plan: accelerating global travel and trade while benefiting – not harming - our community.  That’s what we call being neighborly.

Chris Lytle
Executive Director, Port of Oakland