STOCKTON – The Port of Stockton is a fixture of the city and the region as the commercial shipping gateway to the rest of the world.
In just the past five years the Port of Stockton has attracted $2 billion in new private sector projects, hosted 825 ships and barges carrying more than $5 billion in cargo, and generated more than $41 million in tax revenue for the city and San Joaquin County.
And Saturday marked the 80th year since the lumber schooner The Daisy Gray arrived with 750,000 board feet of lumber for the growing community. The Daisy Gray was the first ever ocean-going ship to arrive in Stockton, thus marking the birth of the Port of Stockton.
“The Port of Stockton is a port of ships, a port of environmental responsibility and a port of agriculture,” Port Director Richard Aschieris said Saturday evening at the Port’s anniversary celebration at The Haggin Museum where invited guests enjoyed catered food, wine and beer, and displays on the Port’s history. “The Port of Stockton is a port of exports, a port of imports, and a port of manufacturing and distribution. The Port of Stockton is an international, national, regional and a local port.”
“The Daisy Gray arrived with great fanfare, and since then the Port has experienced the effects of economic depression, wars, economic growth, fiscal challenges and unprecedented expansion due to the continuing investment in our 2,000-acre port,” said Port Commission Chairwoman Dr. Elizabeth “Liz” Blanchard.
Aschieris and Blanchard said 2012 was a good year for the Port – it hosted the second largest number of ships in the past 35 years, had the best year when it came to revenue, and exports verge on surpassing imports, which is rare for inland ports.
Part of keeping the Port successful is holding down pricing for services, said Aschieris, but also promoting the Port to remind the business world that the facility is here.
But while imports and exports are important to the success of the Port, jobs are vital, too, said Aschieris and Blanchard.
“Most importantly, the Port of Stockton is a port of jobs,” said Aschieris. “Jobs on our docks, jobs in our warehouses, jobs in manufacturing, and jobs on the rail roads. Jobs driving trucks, jobs in marketing, jobs in public safety, jobs in construction, and jobs in environmental stewardship.”
“This success has led to the creation of hundreds of family-wage jobs for our community,” said Blanchard, “all without taxing the citizens of the Stockton Port District.”
Aschieris said the economic impact of the Port means more than 4,500 jobs are generated in Stockton, San Joaquin County and beyond.
While the Port’s history is impressive, Aschieris and Blanchard are optimistic about the future.
“The future looks very bright for the Port of Stockton as we are current negotiating projects valued at more than $1.3 billion in private sector investments, working on attracting new maritime cargoes, and inaugurating a new delivery system for container traffic we call the Marine Highway.
“By the end of this spring, the Marine Highway will be in service, using our ship channel to carry goods in containers by barge from the Central Valley of California to the world, giving businesses the ability to move their products quickly and safely, while improving air quality for all the citizens of the San Joaquin Valley,” Aschieris said.
He said the Port throughout the next year will partner with community groups to celebrate the Port’s 80th year.