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Port of Brownsville Honors 32 High School Graduates with $1,000 Scholarships

 Port Launches Scholarship Program to Help Deserving Students and Families Across the Greater Brownsville Area

BROWNSVILLE, Texas, May 28, 2020 – Thirty-two local high school graduating seniors will receive $1,000 scholarships from the Brownsville Navigation District in an inaugural Port of Brownsville program to help deserving students pursue their education and career dreams.

“On behalf of the entire Port of Brownsville organization, we are proud to support these local students and families at this time,” said John Reed, Chairman of the Brownsville Navigation District. “We are excited for the students as they continue their education and begin their careers, and in the future opportunities they are creating for themselves, their families and our communities.”

The 32 scholarship winners – selected for their academic performance, community involvement, extracurricular activities, and work experience, as well as for essays penned as part of their applications – attend 16 public and private high schools in the Brownsville area. The selected students will receive their scholarships when they enroll in college or technical school.

“The Port of Brownsville is a powerful economic driver for the entire Rio Grande Valley,” Reed said. “Through efforts like this inaugural scholarship program, we look forward to continued partnerships with our local schools, colleges and businesses to ensure our entire community is engaged in creating the opportunities we all want for future generations.”

The 32 graduating seniors eligible for the Port of Brownsville scholarships include:

 

Brownsville Independent School District

Brownsville Early College High School

  • Estrella Lozano
  • Felisha Lucio

 

Gladys Porter Early College High School

  • Rodrigo Cisneros
  • Sara M. Gutierrez

 

Homer Hanna Early College High School

  • Victoria Anne Olea
  • Yadira Villagomez

 

James Pace Early College High School

  • Nia-Isabella Garza
  • Mariana Mijangos

 

Lopez Early College High School

  • Angela Estrada
  • Gracie Gracia

 

Simon Rivera Early College High School

  • Mercy G. Ramirez
  • Emmanuel Sanchez

 

Veterans Memorial Early College High School

  • Leticia Andrea Alicea
  • Cristian Holloway

 

Harmony Public Schools

Harmony School of Innovation

  • Ileana Martinez
  • Alejandro Valdez

 

Idea Public Schools

Idea Frontier College Preparatory

  • Diego Isaac Alfaro
  • Leonardo M. Trevino

Idea Brownsville College Preparatory

  • Enrique Castro
  • Sofia Guerra

 

Jubilee Academies

Jubilee Brownsville

  • Micah Elbert
  • Luz Maria Gallegos

 

Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District

Los Fresnos High School

  • Charles Matthew Bush
  • Alexandra Montes

 

South Texas Independent School District

South Texas ISD Medical Professions

  • Sebastian Garcia
  • David A. Tabanckiewicz

 

Other Greater Brownsville Area Schools

First Baptist School

  • Grecia Badillo
  • Octavio Gomez-Reyna

Saint Joseph Academy

  • Victoria Gonzalez
  • Rebecca Torteya

Valley Christian High School

  • Gilbert Lopez
  • Arianna C. Quezada

 

 

 

 

When the Bell Rings: Honoring U.S. Merchant Mariners

By John Reed/Brownsville Navigation District Chairman

This Memorial Day, as we rightfully honor the military men and women who gave their lives winning and protecting our freedoms, let us not forget an often-overlooked remembrance for the thousands of U.S. merchant mariners who also died serving our country in their own selfless ways.

In 1933, by a joint Resolution of Congress and by Proclamation of the President of the United States, May 22 was set aside as National Maritime Day to honor the sacrifices of U.S. merchant mariners during wartime and in peace. Since the founding of our country, thousands of men and women aboard American-flagged merchant ships have supplied the needs of our troops around the world, often becoming a tragic casualty of war themselves. During World War I and II, more than 8,600 merchant mariners perished – the highest rate of casualties of any branch of the military services, according to available records – with thousands more injured and hundreds taken as prisoners of war. Merchant mariners continued serving through the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf War and other conflicts, braving troubled waters and putting their lives at risk to serve their fellow men and women. In the early hours after the 9/11 attacks, it was U.S. merchant mariners who quickly rushed critical supplies to those families trapped in Lower Manhattan.

And most of us never realized it.

Today, merchant mariners continue serving as a vital lifeline to ensure allied forces have the food, supplies and medicines necessary to serve humanitarian missions around the world while delivering the universal hope of freedom. Coordinating with key organizations like FEMA and the Red Cross, U.S. merchant mariners rush critical relief supplies and housing to areas ravaged by hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters. They deliver the generators, wires and poles to rebuild electricity grids after hurricanes throw homes, hospitals and entire communities into darkness. They bring the pumps and equipment to rebuild systems to ensure clean water can flow again. They are a bright and tangible symbol of hope to those who have lost everything.

The service of merchant mariners is evident at the Port of Brownsville, as well. Like the tugboat captains and deck hands, harbor pilots, and officers and crews of all U.S. flagged vessels. On our own anniversary – our 84th on May 16 – we paid tribute to the men and women who work to ensure the steady flow of vital goods serving the entire Rio Grande Valley. It is through their work that steel, grain, fuel, windmill components and so much more flows in and out of the port to destinations around the corner, and around the world. These are the anonymous merchant mariners who serve all of us, day in and day out.

As U.S. Federal Maritime Commissioner William P. Doyle recently wrote:

“When the bell rings, the U.S. Merchant Marine answers the call. We climb the ladder, we don’t ask why, we ask how high.”

Today, on May 22 – and every day, in fact – let us remember the U.S. merchant mariners who answered the bell and sacrificed their lives for others. Their legacy, and the continued work of their brothers and sisters today, should be a humbling inspiration of service and dedication for us all.

 

READ: BND Proclamation Recognizing May 22, 2020 as National Maritime Day

 

 

Port of Brownsville Ranks 3rd Among U.S. Ports Surveyed for “Strong Financial Resilience” in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic’s Economic Impacts

Prudent Stewardship Allows Brownsville to Weather Economic Uncertainty While Remaining Competitive for Continued Job Creation and Development

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – May 15, 2020 – The Port of Brownsville ranks third among U.S. ports for “strong financial resilience” surveyed in a new report issued by Moody’s Investor Services, underscoring the ongoing value of the port’s prudent financial stewardship in light of economic impacts from the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

Moody’s analysis evaluated American ports on a range of key factors surrounding financial responsibility like the ability to handle the impact of a significant decline in cargo volume, financial liquidity and debt service coverage ratio. Weighing these important factors, the analysis ranks the Port of Brownsville among the most stable in the nation and better able to weather today’s unique economic challenges.

“We take our financial obligations very seriously and work to ensure we are responsible stewards of the port’s resources,” said John Reed, Chairman of the Brownsville Navigation District. “Even during today’s extraordinary economic climate, the Brownsville Navigation District Commission is taking responsible steps to maintain a stable financial foundation to attract continued growth and job creation.”

“Landlord” Advantage in Minimizing Risk

Moody’s report highlighted the important advantages of a “landlord” business model – in which authorities like the Port of Brownsville partner with tenants primarily through stable long-term leases – versus the “operator” model in which authorities conduct daily operations directly for port customers, which can result in “high revenue volatility in periods of stress.” The report concludes that “the landlord model has historically proven to stabilize revenues,” underscoring the Port of Brownsville’s advantage in managing risk as the largest land-owning port in the United States, with more than 40,000 acres and available resources for large-scale industrial developers.

“Healthy” Debt Service Coverage Ratio

The report also highlights the Port of Brownsville’s strong 5.0 Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR), which is more than double that of most other ports Moody’s analyzed and indicates “a strong position from which to absorb and manage revenue pressures.” DSCR is a standard measure of cash flow available to pay current debt obligations. Through such careful financial management, “ports’ debt service coverage and liquidity are key credit features that enable them to manage revenue disruptions and other extraordinary challenges in this period of unprecedented stress,” the report states.

The Port of Brownsville continues to drive economic growth regionally and across Texas. A 2019 economic impact study by Martin and Associates – the nation’s leading maritime economist – found that economic activity generated by the Port of Brownsville resulted in $3 billion in economic impact and produced $201 million in annual tax revenues, supporting more than 51,000 jobs across Texas, including 8,500 in the Rio Grande Valley.

For a copy of the report visit: https://www.moodys.com/researchandratings/sector-in-depth/003003004/sector-research/sector-in-depth/003003004/003003004/-/0/0/-/0/-/-/-/-1/-/-/-/en/global/pdf/-/rra

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84 Years Strong: Port Observes Anniversary

Crowds gather to kick off the celebration of the opening of the Port of Brownsville on May 16, 1936. When the two-day festivities came to a close the port that works was officially open for business.

On May 16, 2020, the Port of Brownsville observes its 84th anniversary.

Opened in 1936 to the excitement of thousands of local residents, the Port of Brownsville signified a new hope for economic prosperity in the Rio Grande Valley region.

Thanks in part to the vision and commitment of Louis Cobolini, an Italian immigrant who set his sights on the port’s potential, the 17-mile long Brownsville ship channel has welcomed foreign travelers and businesses to its shores.

Located on the southernmost tip of Texas and near neighboring Mexico, the possibilities for international commerce were as rich as the Rio Grande Valley’s soil.

In the port’s early years, agricultural exports brought citrus fruits from local groves and shipped Texas cotton across the ocean seas.

The Brownsville Herald archives indicate that in 1937, nearly one year after the initial opening, British freighter Antigone called on the nascent port to load 4,000 tons of scrap metal from Brownsville Iron and Metal company and ship it to Japan. The Antigone was the first British flagged vessel to call on the Port of Brownsville.

Since then, the port has established itself as the premier ship recycling and scrap metal location in the United States and is home to the nation’s principal U.S. Navy aircraft carrier dismantling program.

In addition to the ship recycling operations, the port has developed a versatile marine terminal operation for both liquid and dry cargoes. Petroleum products, steel break bulk materials, aggregates, minerals and windmill components are some of the many commodities handled here today.

An economic impact study by Martin Associates released in 2019 reports the port is responsible for more than 51,000 jobs and $3 billion in annual state economic activity, with more than 8,500 regional workers directly employed by activities of the port.

The port continues to seek opportunities to grow and its leaders know investing in infrastructure is key to its future success.

In 2019, construction of a new Liquid Cargo Dock 6 and improvements to Liquid Cargo Dock 3 and the Bulk Cargo Dock were finalized and are currently in operation. The port also added two new additional mobile harbor cranes to its inventory to meet the increasing workload of scheduled windmill and steel projects.

With more than $40 billion worth of projects currently in the works, the Port of Brownsville is transforming the Rio Grande Valley by creating positive investment opportunities and jobs.

Port of Brownsville’s Foreign Trade Zone Drives Record-Setting $9 Billion of Combined Import and Export Value

FTZ No. 62 continues to power economic progress in the Rio Grande Valley and bring value to the Port of Brownsville

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (May 5, 2020) — Foreign Trade Zone No. 62 at the Port of Brownsville reported a record-setting $8.9 billion in the combined value of exports and imports for 2019.
The total value of export shipments through FTZ No. 62 reached $4.3 billion in 2019, an increase from $3.8 billion the year before. In turn, the FTZ received $4.6 billion in imports. These numbers, the highest in the zone’s history, saw products in the petroleum industry and shipbuilding equipment bring the most value, supported by the steady transport of steel, aluminum and wind energy products.

With domestic exports and foreign imports valued in the billions, FTZ No. 62 continues to be a positive economic driver for communities throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

“The port’s strategic location on the U.S./Mexico border makes FTZ No. 62 an attractive place for shippers and cargo owners to do business,” said Tony Rodriguez, director of Cargo Services and FTZ administrator for the port, “We are helping create more jobs for our community and in Texas and are proud of our role as the largest FTZ in Texas and one of the largest in the U.S.”
Aside from administrating FTZ No. 62, the Port of Brownsville continues to drive economic growth locally and statewide. A 2019 economic impact study by Martin and Associates – the nation’s leading maritime economist – found that economic activity generated by the Port of Brownsville produced $201 million in annual tax revenues and supports more than 51,000 jobs across Texas, including 8,500 in the RGV. And, with increased transportation of foreign trade, services such as U.S. customs brokers, freight forwarders, and the intermodal transportation models and other localized services have seen a jump in activity.

FTZ No. 62 is an example of how trade and commerce is a reliable source of economic activity for the region – even in uncertain times. Throughout March and April, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the port remained open as an essential industry, maintaining safe and responsible operations and transporting products throughout the U.S. and worldwide. As local economies begin recovery from the pandemic, the Port of Brownsville will continue to play its part by pursuing its mission as an economic engine for the Rio Grande Valley region, supporting jobs, creating new opportunities and helping our communities through this challenging time.

 

Commemorating the Fifth Annual Western Hemisphere Ports Day

BY JOHN REED, CHAIRMAN, BROWNSVILLE NAVIGATION DISTRICT

April 5th marks the fifth annual Western Hemisphere Ports Day, which recognizes the port industry’s key role in creating logistics and manufacturing jobs and propelling the economy in nations they serve across the Americas. Usually, this date marks celebrations across a number of coastlines showcasing all the great work people in our industry are doing, but we are well aware these are not normal times. Rather than stopping to celebrate, the Port of Brownsville is working hard to maintain safe and responsible essential operations. This work supports local, regional and national priorities while ensuring we continue to be an economic engine for the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), helping provide essential goods and services to power our local economy.

While the current crisis is unprecedented, challenging situations are not. Over the last several years, the Port of Brownsville has made strategic investments to diversify its cargo matrix to withstand geopolitical influences and the ebbs and flows of the global economy to best help drive growth, spur job creation and remain a strong community partner.

For example, while steel and petroleum products have been a port mainstay, we’ve also built out our business in other industries. In 2019, we grew imports and exports of dry bulk cargo, which includes aggregates, sugar, salt, sand, clay and cement by 61 percent. Since we are the only deepwater seaport on the U.S. – Mexico border, we’ve been able to secure a key role between both nations while offering an unrivaled logistics platform. We’ve also had great news supporting the energy industry. In November 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorized three liquid natural gas export facilities to move forward with an estimated investment of $38.75 billion. These projects are expected to create more than 7,000 construction jobs in the next ten years along with 600 high-paying fulltime jobs long-term.

Looking beyond our borders, we’ve also navigated several behind-the-scenes trade challenges, ranging from the closure of Mexico’s cross-border pipelines to trade wars and tariff uncertainties. While those trade challenges were fierce, the diversification of our business allowed us to set record revenue results of $25 million in Fiscal Year 2019, which empowers us to not only be a strong community partner, but allows us to reinvest in our facilities and continue generating real regional economic growth.

These actions are paying off. A 2019 economic impact study by Martin Associates – the nation’s leading maritime economist – found that the Port of Brownsville now generates $3 billion in annual economic activity, produces $201 million in annual tax revenues and supports more than 51,000 jobs across Texas, including 8,500 right here in the RGV. These results are from the collective efforts of the businesses at the port – along with the Brownsville Navigation District Commission and port staff – all focused on doing things right and doing the right things.

When the national economy regains momentum following the COVID-19 pandemic, the Port of Brownsville will remain steadfast in pursuit of our mission to be the region’s leading economic engine – spurring job creation, creating new opportunities and supporting our communities. We need each other more than ever these days, and you can count on the Port of Brownsville, the port that works.

 

 

COVID-19 Update – Port of Brownsville Remains in Service

Dear Colleagues and Business Partners,

In recent weeks, governments at the local, state and federal level have taken specific actions to curb and limit the spread of COVID-19. As of today, more than 100 million Americans have been ordered to stay home to protect public health. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers during the COVID-19 pandemic – which specifies trade, transport and logistics as essential industries.

The Port of Brownsville, and especially the Brownsville Navigation District, accepts its responsibility and recognizes the importance of our port remaining operational to support national, regional and local priorities during this difficult time.

The safety and well-being of our people is our top priority. Given the evolving circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken various steps to modify the port’s workplace environment. Some duties that can be performed remotely have been realigned out of concern for our employees, while balancing efforts to keep the port operational to provide a stabilizing influence on the regional economy.

Since March 2, 2020, port leadership has conducted meetings and briefings with our federal partners, port staff, port tenants and users on ways to help protect against and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, we have implemented the following measures to mitigate risks and help ensure the well-being of port employees, tenants and our community:

  • We are monitoring the latest information and instructions from public health agencies, and sharing new information with employees, tenants and port users.
  • Postponed or cancelled all in-person public events until further notice.
  • Shared personal hygiene and workstation sanitation supplies, guidance and recommended actions and behaviors with all port staff to limit the potential spread and impacts of COVID-19.
  • Maintaining consistent communications with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP), and our tenants regarding expectations for port operations during the pandemic.
  • Minimized face-to-face meetings and visits at all port offices.
  • Cancelled all non-essential domestic and international travel until further notice.
  • Implemented efforts to reduce the number of employees reporting to port workstations daily.

In following preexisting protocols, all arriving ships are thoroughly vetted by the USCG and USCBP prior to entering the Brownsville Ship Channel. To help protect public health, the USCG has implemented an additional requirement that inbound vessel representatives report sick crew members or passengers within the last 15 days to the CDC.

We remain confident, that working together, we can overcome these difficult times.  We are grateful for your confidence and cooperation.

Brownsville Navigation District Defers Elections to Safeguard Community Against Coronavirus

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – March 27, 2020 – In a special telephonic public meeting today, the Brownsville Navigation District (BND) unanimously approved the deferral of the previously scheduled May 2nd  commission elections until November 3rd – coinciding with other local, state and federal elections – as a further step to safeguard the community from the potential spread of the coronavirus. The deferral will safeguard poll volunteers and the voting public, and is pursuant to a proclamation of the Governor of Texas and a related advisory issued by the Texas Secretary of State.

Today’s meeting was recorded and audio from the meeting will be available starting tomorrow at www.portofbrownsville.com/commission/agendas. A copy of the agenda is available at www.portofbrownsville.com/commission/agendas.

Brownsville Navigation District Considers Postponing May 2nd Election to Safeguard Community Against Coronavirus

Special Telephonic Meeting Scheduled for 12 p.m. Friday, March 27

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Tuesday, March 24, 2020 —The Brownsville Navigation District (BND) will consider postponing the scheduled May 2nd commission elections until November as a further step to safeguard the community from the potential spread of the coronavirus and pursuant to a proclamation of the Governor of Texas and a related advisory issued by the Texas Secretary of State.

If approved by the BND, the commission elections will be conducted on Tuesday, November 3 with other local, state and federal elections.

The postponement will be considered at a special meeting of the BND on Friday, March 27 at 12 p.m. Given the recommended restrictions on public gatherings, the meeting will be conducted by telephone conference call that is open to the public. Anyone wishing to participate in the meeting may join without charge by calling 1-888-204-5987, access code 675-4243. A copy of the agenda packet is available at www.portofbrownsville.com/commission/agendas.The meeting will be recorded and audio from the meeting will be available the following day at www.portofbrownsville.com/commission/agendas.

“The well-being of our community is always our top priority,” said Board Chairman John Reed, “and we need to consider all responsible steps to safeguard poll volunteers and the voting public. We are continuing to monitor decisions and recommendations across the state as we work together to protect our community.”

About the Port of Brownsville

The Port of Brownsville is the only deepwater seaport directly on the U.S.-Mexico border, and the largest land-owning public port authority in the nation with 40,000 acres of land. It transships more steel into Mexico than any other U.S. port. With more than $40 billion worth of projects currently in the works, the Port of Brownsville is transforming the Rio Grande Valley by creating positive investment opportunities and new good paying jobs.