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Port of Oakland looks to lead rebound from COVID-19

[ June 1, 2020   //   ]

This region’s economic rebound from coronavirus would most likely start at the Port of Oakland. That’s what the Port’s Executive Director told East Bay business and civic leaders said while seeking their support.
Danny Wan assured the East Bay Economic Development Alliance that his Port would be “poised on the forefront of recovery.” During a Zoom conference, the Executive Director asked Alliance members to help promote the Port as Oakland’s economic engine.
“Millions fly through our Airport, billions of dollars of goods move through our Seaport and 84,000 jobs in Northern California depend on all of that activity,” Mr. Wan told an online audience of 300 corporate and government officials. “Through cross-promotion and business partnerships, we can lead the way back for Oakland and the East Bay.”
Mr. Wan spoke as the Port and businesses worldwide labor under the economic drag of COVID-19. Oakland International Airport passenger traffic declined 96 percent last month, the Executive Director said. Seaport cargo volume dipped 6.5 percent. Recovery will come, but there’s no telling when, he cautioned.
Mr. Wan said the Port would lead recovery because it has historically been the region’s economic driver. Not only that, he said, but the Port has inherent advantages to build on, including:
• Southwest Airlines, the nation’s largest air carrier in terms of passengers, has its largest California base at Oakland International Airport.
• California farmers, among the nation’s most successful exporters in 2020, ship their goods overseas through Oakland.
• The Port’s Jack London Square offers the largest open-air restaurant and visitor venue in Oakland.
The Executive Director said there are serious challenges to economic recovery. Chief among them: a crippling revenue decline precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic. He added that Oakland faces pressure from competing Bay Area airports and Southern California seaports. Mr. Wan assured his audience that the Port can overcome the challenges with help.
“Consider Oakland International Airport first and adopt ‘Fly Oakland’ policies at your companies,” he suggested. “Designate Oakland as your port for importing or exporting goods. If we work together, we can restore the economic health of the East Bay and the well-being of its citizens.”

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