By Sergio Tito Lopez/Brownsville Navigation District Chairman
Saying “thank you” is an often-underrated privilege, but 2020 requires an extra note of appreciation to those who continue to drive remarkable success at the Port of Brownsville for everyone’s benefit.
The port historically invites its customers and supporters to gather each December for the annual Customer Appreciation Luncheon, where “thank you” is the central theme. COVID-19 clearly altered our plans for an in-person event this year, but the pandemic has not dampened our enthusiasm for saying thanks. Our community continues to grapple with the pandemic’s effects upon our daily lives and wellbeing, but our shared experience has made us closer in many ways – even while being apart.
As the new Chairman of the Brownsville Navigation District, it is my privilege to offer thanks to those who are working hard to succeed in an extraordinarily challenging year – and their results are noteworthy. With one month to go in 2020, it is certain that the Port of Brownsville will set all-time records for total operating revenues, tonnage and loaded railcar movements, laying the foundation for a very optimistic 2021.
We are a catalyst for creating record jobs in partnership with great companies like Keppel AmFELS, TransMontaigne, WestPlains, OmniTRAX/BRG, Bluewing, Maverick, Ternium, Vulcan Construction Materials, U.S. Steel, Work Cat, EMR/International Shipbreaking and our stellar stevedoring companies – Schaefer Stevedoring, Gulf Stream Marine and Dix Shipping. These companies and dozens more deserve special recognition for their work this year by providing the muscle and the knowhow to solidify the Port of Brownsville’s international reputation as “the port that works!”
Each year, we honor one port company with the annual Chairman’s Award, and it is my privilege to announce that Keppel AmFELS is the winner and this year’s honoree. Over the past two years, Keppel reintroduced shipbuilding to the state of Texas and Brownsville, creating a new industry and nearly 1,400 new jobs. They are nearing completion of two 774-foot-long containerships, set to join the U.S. merchant fleet serving American interests and moving American-made goods. Their success is attracting new contracts, strengthening their business and Keppel’s worldwide reputation for excellence. I am very grateful for Keppel’s continuing success.
Contributing to Keppel’s successful transition into shipbuilding is the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, who demonstrated foresight and commitment by facilitating a critical $1.8 million EDA grant to restructure the port’s shipyard, paving the way for unprecedented job creation. To our partners at the LRGVEDC, a big thank you.
I wish to also thank my fellow commissioners serving the Brownsville Navigation District in continuing to create the fertile business environment necessary for our remarkable accomplishments during a worldwide health crisis. I know how hard each of my colleagues work in making the port the Rio Grande Valley’s leading economic engine. Further, I wish to offer a sincere thank you to the port staff and leadership. As federally designated essential personnel, their dedication and professionalism throughout the pandemic are moving the port forward, leading the way for the RGV and Brownsville.
From the challenges of 2020, we enter 2021 stronger and with more resolve in serving the diverse needs of our communities, residents, businesses and future generations. A simple “thank you” never felt so satisfying.