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Study: Investments in ports region will generate 7,000 new jobs annually

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Planned investments in the state’s ports region are expected to generate nearly 7,000 jobs annually through 2017, according to an economic impact study released Monday.

For the region’s port and maritime industry, the projected growth would continue the positive impact created during the height of the recession, according to two trade groups that commissioned the study. The projections assume a project to raise the Bayonne Bridge by 64 feet is completed by 2017.

Joseph Curto, president of the New York Shipping Association, said at a news conference Monday that his members were anxious to find out a firm timetable for the bridge project, which is needed to allow larger container ships to reach Newark and Elizabeth following the expansion of the Panama Canal, expected for a 2014 completion.

“At the moment, I think we’re all somewhat placated by the news that the Port Authority is going ahead with the project, and that the first funds have been committed,” Curto said, referring to the $1 billion the bistate agency pledged last year.

The economic impact study released Monday showed jobs directly associated with port activity increased by nearly 3.5 percent from 2008 to 2010. That report found the port — the largest on the East Coast — supported 170,770 direct jobs and 279,200 total jobs in New York and New Jersey last year.

The growth over the two-year period came from increases in containerized cargo movement and improvements in distribution space activity, the study found. An executive summary of the report also pointed to security improvements that were implemented, some of which required staffing increases.

The study, by A. Strauss-Wieder Inc., of Westfield, was prepared for the Edison-based New York Shipping Association Inc. and New York Maritime Inc. It also describes how public and private investment in the port since 2006 has resulted in state-of-the-art facilities, deeper channels and multimodal access to North America.

The port generates $11.6 billion in personal income and almost $37.1 billion business income annually, the report said.

“What this study also highlights … is the value of this port as a hub for global trade,” said Carleen Lyden-Kluss, executive director of New York Maritime Inc. “Unlike other ports in the United States, the Port of New York and New Jersey not only has the physical side of terminals and port operations, but it also boasts the benefits of being the world’s largest capital market.”

The job projections detailed in the report are based on capital investments expected to take place from 2012 to 2017. The projects are expected to produce about 6,900 jobs annually, a number that could increase when rail freight and additional roadway improvements are finalized, the report said.

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Joshua Burd

Joshua Burd

Josh Burd covers real estate, economic development and sports and entertainment. Before joining NJBIZ in 2011, he spent four years as a metro reporter in Central Jersey. Email him at joshb@njbiz.com.

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