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Upcoming Webinars Focus On How Shippers Choose Ports

Published: June 1, 2011

As a followup to its October Point/Counterpoint event titled “Panama Canal Expansion: The Battle for Jobs and Cargo. Who Wins? Whose Loses? Who Decides?,” CSULB’s Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT) will hold a three-part webinar series on “Cargo and Jobs: Still Ours to Lose?,” with one-hour Friday webcasts beginning at noon (PST) on May 20, June 3 and 17.

The Point/Counterpoint event brought scholars as well as industry experts and leaders to campus to review the facts surrounding the canal’s expansion and offer unique perspectives — as well as challenge existing assumptions – concerning implications for West Coast ports, cargo volume and jobs.

“There are related topics under a common theme: ‘Is the cargo and are the jobs still ours to lose?’” said Thomas O’Brien, director of research for CITT at CSULB. “The one message most people took away from the Point/Counterpoint event was from one of the speakers, Dr. Mary Brooks from Canada’s Dalhousie University in Halifax, who challenged the audience by saying, “The cargo is ours to lose.”

CITT Executive Director Marianne Venieris thinks it’s important to know what that means. “At stake are not just jobs and profits at the Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles, but the larger Southern California logistics economy,” she said. “The ports as well as elected officials can make decisions that keep Southern California attractive as a destination for cargo, but we could lose it if the wrong decisions are made or if no action is taken.”

Series moderator will be Mat Kaplan, senior director of technology and development at CSULB’s College of Continuing and Professional Education. Kaplan also hosts CITT’s ContainerCast podcasts.

O’Brien will set the stage in the first webcast and offer a summary in the final session. The expert guests will be asked how shippers make decisions about moving goods though Southern California and to what extent the San Pedro Bay ports are or will be competitive with other ports.

The first session on May 20, titled “How Shippers Choose Ports,” features presenter Joey Carnes, chairman and chief executive officer of MIQ Logistics. He will examine the way factors such as price, speed and reliability make local ports competitive. How do different shippers vary in the needs and expectations that affect their decisions? How much discretionary cargo is really at risk when the canal’s expansion allows larger vessels to travel directly from Asia to East Coast ports?

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The June 3 presentation asks, “Is Southern California Competitive?” Fran Inman, senior vice president, corporate development, Majestic Realty Co., and appointee to the California Transportation Commission, will look at how diverse local stakeholders have found common ground and been working together to address customer needs and priorities; what actions have been taken to enhance the system capacity of ports, rail, and highways; and how effectively has the industry been in communicating the advantage of West Coast gateways to shippers and ocean carriers.

During the final session on June 17, John McLaurin, president of Pacific Merchant Shipping Association addresses the “Challenges Ahead” in terms of remaining tasks and obstacles. What steps must be taken to keep pace with improvements at other West Coast, Gulf Coast and Atlantic harbors? How can local community, regulatory, security and environmental concerns be addressed to accelerate the necessary work?

“In order to find the right topic for the next Point/Counterpoint event scheduled for the spring of 2012, we know we have to explore some more issues that are still unresolved in our minds,” said O’Brien. “We thought we needed further discussion, and the webinar series takes advantage of new media that allows us to reach a larger national audience. The interest in this topic extends beyond this region. The people on the East Coast and the Gulf Coast have an interest in what’s being said here, just as we have an interest in how they’re looking at the question of competitiveness there.”

More program and speaker information is available on the CITT website. The events are free with advance online registration. Only participants in attendance will be able to submit questions, and recordings will be archived afterward.

A complete summary and analysis of “Panama Canal Expansion: The Battle for Jobs and Cargo Who Wins? Who Loses? Who Decides?” is available at the link on the METRANS website along with copies of presentations, documentary film and an archived webcast.

–Shayne Schroeder