This past weekend more than 3,000 people boarded the USS Iowa for its inaugural opening day in San Pedro at the Port of Los Angeles (POLA). When operating at full capacity in 2015, museum organizers expect hundreds of thousands of visitors to flock annually to see the ship that fought in World War II and Korea, hosted President Franklin D. Roosevelt and patrolled the seas during the Cold War. The USS Iowa will serve as an economic boon to the harbor community, bringing tourists from all over to San Pedro and future waterfront developments.

Even more essential, the Port is currently engaged in a $1.2 billion capital investment program to modernize and green its infrastructure in anticipation of the widened Panama Canal opening in two years. With about $310 billion in containerized trade moving through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach last year and more than 900,000 port-related jobs in the region, it is vital that we act aggressively to remain the international gateway to the rest of the country.

We applaud the Los Angeles City Council for focusing attention on POLA during a hearing two weeks ago on how to support and improve competitiveness in the movement of international goods. Led by Councilmembers Ed Reyes and Joe Buscaino, the Council engaged in a productive discussion with Port officials, the business community, labor and environmental organizations, all of which were united in their commitment to grow and green the Port. Councilmember Buscaino, who represents the Port area, introduced a motion to streamline and prioritize maritime construction projects, in recognition of the massive investment they represent in our region’s economic future.

The recent approval of the Final Environmental Impact Report for Pier 300, which will bring more than 8,000 jobs in a 15-year period, is very good news. That project, combined with the expansion and upgrading of the TraPac and China Shipping terminals, the completion of the Main Channel Deepening to welcome the next generation of larger ships, the approval of the Pier 400 project to store increasing amounts of crude oil, and the construction of new near-dock rail facilities to reduce truck traffic, are the kinds of projects we need to make sure that POLA retains its market share in the face of competition from other U.S. ports via the Panama Canal.

These POLA projects, combined with similar upgrades at the Port of Long Beach, will enable the San Pedro Port Complex to continue its leadership in the goods movement industry for decades to come. Making sure all these job-creating projects come to fruition will require collaboration between the Ports, City Council, labor, environmentalists, community organizations and the private sector.  We have no time to waste.