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November Luncheon

December 12, 2014 04:06 PM

By Michael Camoscio, STV Incorporated

WTS-Boston welcomed Deborah Hadden, Port Director for Massport, as the guest speaker at our monthly luncheon on November 14th. Her presentation was titled “The Port of Boston: An Economic Engine for the Commonwealth & New England,”  Massport’s Lee Filipe, Deputy Director of Information Technology and a WTS-Boston Board member, introduced Ms. Hadden and highlighted some of her many accomplishments in both her current role as Port Director and previous role as Deputy Port Director.

Ms. Hadden began her presentation by describing the impact the Port of Boston has on Boston and the surrounding region. Massport commissioned a study in 2013 and found that over 7,000 direct jobs can be attributed to the Port – numbers that would put the Port of Boston as the 6th largest employer in Boston. The report also found that the Port has a $4.6 billion economic impact on the region. Ms. Hadden noted she was surprised by this number; as it was double that from the previous, pre-recession study.

What doesn’t surprise Ms. Hadden is the importance of the Port to daily life in the region.  A book was written last year titled “Ninety Percent of Everything” by Rose George which covers the importance of global shipping and notes that 90 % of all goods are at one time or another moved by ship. The Port of Boston is more than just Massport.  More than half of the oil and jet fuel for the region goes to terminals along the Chelsea Creek.  Automobiles are imported into the former Moran Container Terminal in Charlestown.  Liquid Nitrogen Gas (LNG) and are also shipped into the region via ship.  

At Conley Container Terminal in South Boston, New England’s only full service terminal, 200,000+ equivalent units (TEU) are shipped each year.  Ms. Hadden explained to this audience a 20 foot long container is referred to as 1 TEU.  These TEU’s come to Boston via one of three global shipping routes.

With the growth of global shipping and the anticipated completion of the Panama Canal expansion project in 2016, global shippers are looking for even larger vessels to carry more freight per trip.  This requires an investment by Massport for both the water and land side of the harbor.  Dredging of the harbor is required to bring in larger, deeper water vessels.  Massport has undertaken a $300 million project with the help of the Army Corps of Engineers.  While this may seem like a very expensive project, the Army Corps studies have found that for every $1 spent; the region should see $9 of economic return.  The project is also anticipated to double the volume of the Conley Terminal.

To handle the increased volume, the land side of Conley terminal needs to grow.  Massport is currently working to fund a $200 million project to build ship berth capacity, purchase specialized cranes and develop additional container yard capacity.  As part of this expansion, Massport is looking to provide a direct connection to Summer Street to remove heavy vehicle traffic from residential streets.

In addition to the shipping side of the port, Massport is also the operator of Cruiseport Boston, seafood terminals and the aforementioned automobile port.  The Cruiseport saw 113 ships during 2014 and generated over $24 million in tax revenue.  Improvements are needed at the Cruiseport to improve the facilities to help keep and attract cruise companies to return year after year.  The seafood terminals are also looking to expand as there is a demand for additional commercial boating slips.

Massport has already invested heavily in the future of the Port and is eager to undertake additional projects such as the planned expansion to the Conley Container Terminal and seafood facilities, resiliency to protect key infrastructure from storms, and upgrades to the Cruiseport.  Through all this work, Ms. Hadden and Massport hope to keep the unseen industries of Massachusetts growing.

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