“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”

— President Franklin D. Roosevelt

As we navigate through the turbulent, uncharted waters of 2020, the Galveston Wharves is fortunate to have board members with decades of experience in finance, business and leadership. This experience is invaluable during these uncertain times.

The Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees has provided a steady hand on the tiller as we stay focused on the vetted plans that will keep our business on course.

As the staff deals with some challenging issues and gathers the facts, our board considers staff recommendations and makes decisions that remain true to the port’s mission to strengthen the community and region through economic growth.

POSITION OF STRENGTH

We’re fortunate to have entered this challenging period on sound financial footing. In the past few years, the board has supported staff’s decisions to streamline operations and capitalize on opportunities that have resulted in increased revenues, thus enabling us to build up cash reserves. We now have more than $14 million in unrestricted reserves to draw on as needed.

As a self-funding port, we rely solely on our revenues to fund operations. Revenues, grants and financing pay for capital projects and infrastructure maintenance.

STEADY AS SHE GOES

This pandemic struck just as the port was beginning to implement its first-ever 20-Year Strategic Master Plan. The board has remained committed to implementing priority projects identified in this detailed road map.

These projects are the first steps toward consolidating cargo operations on the west end of the port, building an interior roadway to improve traffic flow, and making infrastructure improvements in the Pier 10 area to prepare for construction of a third cruise terminal.

While the pandemic has affected project timelines in ways we still may not fully know, the port’s infrastructure needs and growth opportunities remain. We are following plans to develop these projects in a fiscally responsible manner, using our port construction and maintenance team when we can and seeking millions of dollars in state and federal grants to help fund these projects.

And while cruise sailings have been suspended, I’m confident that Galveston, the fourth most popular cruise port in America, will continue to be a top cruise port when sailings resume.

Cruise forecasts indicate that the cruise drive-to market will be the first to come back. This week Carnival announced that it would resume cruises in August from Galveston and two other U.S. ports. I have confidence that the cruise lines and the agencies that oversee public health will ensure a safe, successful restart. I like to think that this port’s board and staff have contributed to Carnival’s decision to come back to Galveston first.

I want to thank members of the Galveston Wharves Board for their leadership and fortitude. It takes courage to advance, not retreat, in times like these. I also want to thank my remarkable staff for their dedication and hard work.

We’ll continue to stay positive, make fact-based decisions and focus on what matters.

Rodger Rees is the director and CEO of the Port of Galveston.

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(2) comments

Charlotte O'rourke

“We now have more than $14 million in unrestricted reserves to draw on as needed.”

The port has $500 million of infrastructure needs, and a leaky cruise terminal roof that wasn’t repaired in a timely manner so staff and the bucket brigades continues.

According to reports the port has lost 65% of its revenue - a loss of $1.6 million a month with no major cut in expenses doesn’t last long.

Those lost ships also and mean lost jobs.

While I love the cruise business and hope it comes back strong, reality says it has a long way to go.

Don’t just cut revenues which cut themselves because of covid 19. Start cutting expenses so you have cash to do those deferred projects that were postponed. It’s not about looking good, but surviving to fight another day.

Consider moving the future terminal to pier 18 and keep the fruit business. It would have been better before you signed the extension of commitment, but better late than never,

Wayne D Holt

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