Seaports Magazine - Winter 2015 - (Page 25)

» FEATURE STICK TO THE PLAN Commissioners play a vital role in helping ports develop a strategic vision. By Nick Fortuna I f your company does business with the Ports of Indiana, you're unlikely to encounter a new face sitting in on a meeting, and that's precisely the way Rich Cooper wants it. Cooper has been the chief executive for the state's three ports for a decade, and most of his port commissioners have served multiple terms under several different state governors. Such continuity allows Cooper to offer prospective port tenants something they really value: stability. "We're a landlord port authority, and we're recruiting businesses to reside at our ports," Cooper said. "Many times, we're asked by businesses, 'How long has your management team been in place? How long has your board been in place?' If they sign a lease with us, it might be for 30 or even 50 years, and they want to know that the people they're doing business with today, as long as we're doing our job well, will be the people who will be here tomorrow, and it won't be a revolving door of board members and management teams. "When you have that kind of continuity, people tend to get on the same page. But when you're constantly rotating people in and out, it's a formula for trouble, and in my opinion, the port authority can never achieve its full potential." The Ports of Indiana has a seven-member commission appointed by the governor. Commissioners serve staggered four-year terms, meaning that several commissioners' terms typically end in any given year. Whether the governor is a Democrat or Republican, Cooper said he stresses the importance of board and management continuity in drawing prospective tenants. Quite simply, port commissioner is a not a job with which to reward a loyal political operative who has political aspirations of his own. The commission and management team meet at least six times a year, and Cooper said he remains in steady contact with commissioners via email. The commission is made up of successful executives from a variety of industries, such as steel Calif., several years ago when it came time to begin a $17 million project to replace a wharf that was beyond repair. Long before that, the port's finance committee, which includes two commissioners and the management team, had established reserves for capital improvement projects, and the committee recommended issuing revenue bonds to supplement those reserves and complete the project. "They're all extremely successful business people whose experiences complement our management team very well. They become my sounding board, my advisers. They provide valuable input." - Rich Cooper, Ports of Indiana production, agricultural products, land management and accounting - all of which prove useful to developing short- and longterm plans for the port and evaluating prospective tenants. "They're all extremely successful business people whose experiences complement our management team very well," Cooper said. "They become my sounding board, my advisers. They provide valuable input. Having board members who are very familiar with financial statements and financial analysis is important because we obviously want businesses that have strong financial stability. Our board is really good at reviewing business proposals to make certain that we've made the best possible business decision. They get the last look." A close working relationship between commissioners and port management paid big dividends for the Port of Redwood City, "The finance committee has been very helpful in doing longer-term financial planning for major capital improvement projects," said Executive Director Michael J. Giari. "Replacing that wharf was one of the largest capital improvement projects that we'd done in the last 20 years, and we had to come up with a financial plan for how to pay for that, and the port commission was very helpful with their experience and expertise." The port's five commissioners are appointed by the city council and serve four-year terms. In addition to public meetings held twice a month, commissioners serve on standing committees dealing with personnel, finance, port-area planning, channel dredging and public relations. There's even a committee that is working with the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation WINTER 2015 * WWW.AAPASEAPORTS.COM 25 http://WWW.AAPASEAPORTS.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Seaports Magazine - Winter 2015

AAPA Headquarters
From the President’s Desk
Expanding Capacity, Increasing Budgets
Navigating Cities, Counties and States
104th AAPA Annual Convention
Strategically Planning for Success
Stick to the Plan
AAPA XXIV Latin American Congress of Ports
Guarding Our Nation’s Ports Against Potential Threats
Keys to Success for Port Capital and Financial Planning
Port Game an Educational Tool – and Fun for All Ages
Port Planning and Investment Toolkit a Go-To Resource
Index of Advertisers

Seaports Magazine - Winter 2015