Letter from the Chairman

Posted By: Bernt Netland Port Bureau News,

As I enter my second year as chairman of the Greater Houston Port Bureau in 2022, I am honored to serve our great port region. Once again ranked Number 1 in total tonnage in the U.S. by the Army Corps of Engineers, the Houston Ship Channel handled more than 275 million shorts tons of cargo during 2021! As we have been since 1929, the Port Bureau is committed to advancing progress and prosperity in the Houston Ship Channel community through facilitating collaborative networking, providing maritime information and data, and championing port advocacy.

Port Bureau membership has grown significantly over the past several years to over 250 company members today, representing 50 different industry segments in the region. To build our service to members and the Houston port region, in 2021, our Board of Directors sought to establish a 3-year strategic framework and plan based on a ten-year outlook to provide our membership with the information they need to do business better.

The strategic focus outlined in the plan incorporates these goals:

  1. Develop outreach and influence programs to become the top source of information and thought leadership for the greater Houston port region by focusing advocacy efforts on governmental issues and developing deeper partnerships with other associations and organizations.
  2. Create an outreach committee to market, promote, and provide public relations to build Port Bureau thought leadership and brand.
  3. Invest in resources to become the major source of data, information, and operating knowledge in making the port more efficient. Currently we have launched Synchronizer, a digital software program for port efficiency, and PilotTracker.
  4. Continue to build engagement through networking and working groups and to include more of our early- to mid-career professionals.
  5. Continue growing our membership base to increase the strength of our collective voice in advocacy.

This strategic focus will help the Port Bureau support the local maritime industry as it tackles such issues as implementing digitalization systems, integrating technology, and improving operating efficiency, while addressing infrastructure needs, workforce recruitment, sustainability goals, and more.

Even with COVID-19 as a continuing factor, the port region made remarkable accomplishments in 2021, beginning the “new start” designation for Project 11 – deepening and widening the Ship Channel - last January and then awarding the first dredging contract for a major part of the Galveston Bay reach in October. Through the efforts of the Houston International Seafarers’ Center our port become one of first ports to vaccinate mariners aboard vessels – a need that continues to be a global concern. Our maritime community keeps cargo flowing through just about every kind of disruption possible, from fog and a record-breaking freeze to supply chain challenges.

It is truly a privilege to serve a port community so diverse and so persevering! Please consider getting more involved with us in making the port better for all. My sincere thanks go out to all of you who have supported the Port Bureau’s mission and drive for the Houston Ship Channel to stay Number 1 in the nation.

Thank you,

Bernt A. Netland

Chairman, Greater Houston Port Bureau