By Chris Connor, President & CEO, AAPA
I think we can all agree that it has been a dreadful winter for many in the Western Hemisphere. It seems like nearly every day there’s yet another storm approaching, or record low temperatures gripping the country.
Spring signals increased hope of not only better weather, but more importantly, increased vaccination levels and an ever-improving defense against the virus.
Against this backdrop, I wanted to share with you a few highlights of what’s currently happening at AAPA:
• AAPA is still temporarily ‘homeless,’ but we expect to move into our new offices at 1201 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, D.C., on or about May 15. This is incredibly exciting for staff, and we look forward to welcoming you in our new location once travel restrictions are lifted.
• Take a look at the recently published AAPA 2021 Membership Directory, and check out the staff organization chart on page 20. Lots of new faces for sure, but I love the mix of new ideas and energy alongside the veterans on our team. It’s a great dynamic, and one that offers great promise for the association’s representation of the port industry for years to come.
• In accordance with an AAPA Board directive, we have created an Audit Committee to help oversee the association’s annual audit process – and to lend experience and knowledge to what we expect will become improved financial reporting and planning. An awesome team of port finance executives has volunteered – and special thanks to Kent Britton of Port Corpus Christi, and John Burns of Port of Coos Bay for stepping up to take on the chair and vice chair roles, respectively.
• We’ve also launched a Dues Task Force – with a separate group of port finance executives – to help us modernize the byzantine dues assessment process within the association. The objective here is to have a recommendation for a new process to propose to members at the Annual Convention in Austin, September 26-29. This will not impact FY 2022 beginning July 1, but would kick in for FY 2023 beginning July 1, 2023.
• Speaking of the Annual Convention in Austin…We are going full steam ahead with hosting this event in dynamic Austin, Texas. Stay tuned for more news, and the roll out of the convention website. An early shout out to the Port of Corpus Christi for stepping up and volunteering to play an important sponsorship role.
• I strongly encourage you to engage with Mary Beth Long on the work force development opportunities available under a Department of Labor grant that AAPA is administering. As the economy continues to recover and life returns to normal later this summer or fall, most economists predict that skilled and semi-skilled jobs will be in high demand. So take advantage of this opportunity to secure DOL funding to help train your workforce for the future.
• Last week we distributed our “Ports United Legislative Policy Agenda” to over 1,500 legislators, staffers and members of the new administration. This is our ‘playbook’ for the 117th Congress – and with this distribution we are both educating and informing key players what AAPA will be advocating for on behalf of the port industry. It is a well written and graphically attractive document, and I am encouraging USA port members to use it in your respective legislative discussions at the state or federal level.
• We are still working diligently to try and convince lawmakers to appropriate relief dollars to the recently passed MTSERA authorization. For lots of reasons – it’s been a tough fight – but we’re not backing down, and remain guardedly hopeful of an appropriation in President Biden’s pending (as of this writing) relief package – or any other opportunity that presents itself.
• As the new administration talks infrastructure spending (and, yes, President Biden has mentioned “ports” in his recent statements) AAPA is positioning on behalf of member ports accordingly. AAPA Chair Mario Cordero and I recently co-authored an OpEd piece, which we hope to get published in The Wall Street Journal, or other leading publications, in order to advance the port industries case.
Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our members for their continued support of AAPA and its mission. Your strength and energy are our motivation, and on behalf of the entire AAPA team, we are proud to serve you.