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The Gulf Ports Association: Promoting Progress

Working with ports across the Gulf Coast of the United States, The Gulf Ports Authority (GPA) promotes the progress of waterborne commerce throughout Gulf ports to bring continued economic development to the region. As a trade organisation, The Gulf Ports Authority provide a forum through which its members receive vital support, education, and networking to uplift the area’s cargo shipment and highlight the region as a key area of shipment.

Since 1945, GPA has been working to progress the waterborne commerce of the Gulf Ports guided by a team of elected officials to promote the continued success of the region. GPA began in New Orleans when there were only 13 public port members in the five Gulf states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Over the last nearly 80 years, GPA has provided a forum for its member works where they can address mutual concerns and educate the public and elected officials on the economic impact of Gulf ports. Today GPA covers 36 ports across the Gulf Coast and provides users of the ports with innovatively managed and environmentally responsible facilities with the end goal of promoting the success of each port across the region.

Existing members of the port include the Port of South Louisiana. This is one of the largest tonnage port districts which extends 54 miles of the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. The port is served by 3 trunk link railroads and 3 major interstate highways. With 50 piers and docks, the ports receive vessels up to 45ft all year round. As a central cargo port, it facilitates cargo-to-vessel transfers via its barge system. Every year it moves more than 233mt of cargo upriver to major US markets in the Midwest and Northeast. The Port of South Louisiana is such a complex port, which for GPA is a large member for its role within the industry. However, GPA is concerned with all ports no matter the size as their collective role is what allows the region and the GPA to maintain such a lucrative stream of cargo shipment across the region.

We also see the crucial role smaller ports play in the fundamental role of GPA in the appointment of Walker Smith as the president of the Association. Smith is the port director of the Port of Harlingen Authority and is the first time in the last 30 years that a port director from a shallow draft port has been elected as president of the Association. Smith will lead the Association over the coming months in its pursuit to fund and represent the 36 ports under the association, as it continues to educate elected officials and the public on the importance of waterborne commerce to the US.

A key part of GPA is the bi-annual meeting where all members are invited to meet and provide a space for crucial networking, education, and promotion of the vital role these ports play in the country’s economic development. The next conference is set to be held in May of this year where the 36 ports will gather together under the Association. However, should conflicts or concerns arise between meetings, GPA will hold gatherings as and when needed to maintain the strength of the region’s port facilities.

A significant partner to GPA is the railway network as these are what allow cargo shipped in from the coast to access markets across America. Companies such as Railworks Corporation provide construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance services to vital rail systems across North America. They recognise the vital role which ports play in today’s economy, as many ports are vital pillars of trade, travel, and industry. Therefore, the company ensures that the railways can be utilised year-round and has implemented custom-built track systems across ports to streamline operations and serve as a vital gateway to the nation and beyond.

Overall, GPA has spent nearly 80 years as the governing authority association across the Gulf Coast of America. Working with all ports from Manatee in Florida to Brownsville in Texas, GPA continues to be successful in its promotion of the region’s waterborne commerce, and, as the demand for cargo and tourism continues to grow across America, the ports will continue to play a vital role in the national economic development. We look forward to seeing how Smith shapes the future of the Association and the crucial developments from association’s conference in a few months.