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Jax Daily Record Monday, Feb. 27, 201212:00 PM EST

U.S. Mayors discuss national port infrastructure plans

by: Joe Wilhelm Jr.

U.S. mayors determined over the weekend that there is an immediate need to invest in “crumbling” infrastructure necessary to move domestic goods to the global marketplace.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors met at the Hyatt Downtown to raise awareness about exports. Mayor Alvin Brown, chairman of the organization’s task force on Metro Exports and Ports, led the meeting.

“Investing in our infrastructure is so critical for our country. Ports play a major role in putting America back to work all around the globe,” Brown said.

“We want to remain competitive in the marketplace and the only way to do that is to invest in our ports,” he said.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors released a report during the weekend outlining the economic impact of exports on metro cities’ economies. It also projects that exports will outpace imports by 2020.

“The U.S. Conference of Mayors has one message — cities are where the action is,” said Scott Smith, mayor of Mesa, Ariz.

“Cities are where economic activity happens. Cities are where economic growth will happen. The great opportunity we have right now is in exports. We believe 40 percent of real growth in our GDP will come through exports,” he said.

Smith said cities operate in a world economy that needs to be connected.

“The challenges we face in America is that we have fallen behind in our ability to connect with the world. Our problem is that we have lagged in infrastructure investment. We have redirected resources and we all know how challenged we are with resources in Washington,” he said.

Smith explained that policy changes are needed to correct operations.

“We are looking for smart investment. We are looking for smart cuts, not dumb cuts, in Washington. We think it’s dumb to cut the investment in our ports, in our highways and in those things that connect the world and create real economic opportunity,” said Smith.

The report was produced for the conference by IHS Global Insight, which claims to offer economic and financial analysis, forecasting, and market intelligence for 204 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. 

The report “U.S. Metro Economies: Exports in the Next Decade” provided an outline of how exports could help with the creation of jobs and bolster GDP.

“The world’s fastest growing economies are, generally, the U.S.’s fastest growing export destinations, led by Qatar, Vietnam, India, China and Panama,” it said.

Canada, Mexico and China are the largest U.S. export destinations. International markets are expanding at a much greater rate than in the U.S, it said.

“We are here developing and refining this message, so when we get together with all the mayors in a few short months we will be able to define a policy that we will put forth to Washington and those leaders,” said Smith.

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