The Port of Los Angeles is a major employer in California; it also plays a crucial role in the import and export of goods used by — and made by — Americans.
That’s why the port’s executive director, Gene Seroka, often travels to Washington, D.C., to see how the port can better serve the country and to seek funding to improve its infrastructure and operations.
“We come to Washington with one goal in mind: How can the Port of Los Angeles be a better federal partner? How can we sharpen our skills on applications for grant money, whether it's the infrastructure law, the [Inflation Reduction Act] and other mechanisms? And what do we need to do to move those applications to the head of the class?” Seroka told Spectrum News in Washington, D.C.
Seroka shared with us that he spent time meeting with members of California’s congressional delegation, with Transportation Secretary Pete Butteigeg and with White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu, lobbying for more money to continue the Port of LA’s growth and to help the port meet its goal of zero emissions by 2030.
“Of all the distribution of funds in the infrastructure law and other mechanisms, California ports are receiving a little bit less than 15%. We need to bring more of that money to California,” explained Seroka. "This investment will help expedite projects and get us prepared for that cargo growth of the future while doing it in a clean and sustainable way.”
Just last month, the Port of Los Angeles was awarded $233 million in grants from the state of California to complete essential infrastructure projects aimed at creating a more efficient and sustainable supply chain.
It’s unclear how much sway the Washington meetings will have in securing more money, but Seroka says the port is already on better footing than it was a year and a half ago, when it was a major bottleneck in the nation’s supply chain. He told us he doesn’t expect a backlog this holiday season that worried many consumers late last year.
“We learned so much during COVID about how cargo flow takes place, who needs their cargo and when. So we've been doing a good job as a collective in the industry to separate those products that really need to get to market versus those that may have a little bit longer transit path to their customers,” he explained. “We're using our data source, the port optimizer co-created with a web tech company, to really see around corners and over hills and protect the supply chain from the next unknown.”