updated 12/15/2010 5:17:03 PM ET 2010-12-15T22:17:03

HOUSTON, Dec. 15, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A professional services contract to study the recent economic impact of the Port of Houston was among several matters approved during the December 14 regular public meeting of the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority. Chairman James T. Edmonds presided over the meeting with Commissioner Steve Phelps, Commissioner Kase Lawal, Commissioner Jim Fonteno, Commissioner Jimmy Burke, Commissioner Janiece Longoria and Commissioner Elyse Lanier.

Also at the meeting, the Cement Council of Texas, represented by Jan Prusinki, Executive Director, and Matthew W. Singel, Program Director, presented the 2010 Portland Cement Association Sustainable Leadership Award to Jim McQueen, P.E., the Port Authority's Chief Construction Manager. The award, exemplifying sustainable development, recognized an infrastructure project at Bayport that used roller-compacted concrete, a construction method that provides benefits of speed and efficiency.

Strong steel performance

In his monthly report, Chief Executive Officer Alec G. Dreyer said November's performance continued the pattern of the past three months, with stronger steel numbers outshining container performance during the month.

The Port Authority handled 219,000 tons of steel in November 2010 – more than twice the year-ago levels, an increase of 128 percent. "The last nine months of 2010 have been a game of catch-up for us, given the record levels of steel that moved through Port Authority facilities in the first three months of 2009," Dreyer said.

"The port needs just 180,000 tons of steel in December to close the gap entirely and to have 2010 end up with an annual steel number above 2009," Dreyer said. "The good news is that our mid-month projections show steel coming in around 190,000 tons for December."

He also noted that year-to-date container revenue is up a robust 16 percent compared to the same 11-month period in 2009, with container tonnage up 7 percent for that period.

Ship arrivals at Port Authority facilities this year through November are more than 4 percent higher than the same 11-month period in 2009, Dreyer said. Ship arrivals are up 12 percent at the Turning Basin and up 7 percent at container facilities. He also noted barge traffic has shown significant growth all year and is up 17 percent in November year-to-date.

Economic Analysis

(Agenda I1) The Port Commission awarded John C. Martin Associates, LLC, an up to $90,000 professional services contract to measure the Port of Houston's economic impact on the region, state and nation. Job generation, employee earnings, business revenue and state and local taxes generated by port business activities will be the focus of the study update. Other tools that will help gauge the impact include focused interviews with firms providing services to the cargo and vessels handled at the public and private terminals along the Houston Ship Channel.

Martin Associates completed economic impact studies for the Port Authority in 2007 and 2002. The 2007 study showed that 785,000 jobs throughout the U.S. and $118 billion in annual regional economic impact are related to business activities at the Port of Houston.

Strategic Planning

(Agenda R2) The Port Commission awarded a two-year, $200,000 contract to Post, Buckley, Schuh & Jernigan, Inc. (PBS&J) for professional stormwater consulting services. The firm will aid and advise the Port Authority Environmental Affairs Department on stormwater quality matters related to operations by the Port Authority and its tenants, and other maritime industry users of Port Authority facilities.

(Agenda R7) Port Commissioners supported underwriting a proposed study by the Mickey Leland National Urban Air Toxics Research Center with $100,000 of Port Authority funding. The study will measure air benefits from Port Authority emission reduction strategies. For more than 20 years, the Center has been successfully assembling diverse funding partners and science teams to design, fund and implement high quality research projects. The Port Authority has supported several air quality initiatives and strategies that the Center undertook in adjacent port communities. The current study is expected to demonstrate the benefits to public health from port emission reduction strategies for drayage trucks, ocean-going vessels and cargo-handling equipment, which are all part of the Port Authority's Clean Air Strategy Plan initiatives.

About the Port of Houston Authority

The Port of Houston Authority owns and operates the public facilities located along the Port of Houston, the 25-mile-long complex of diversified public and private facilities designed for handling general cargo, containers, grain and other dry bulk materials, project and heavy lift cargo, and other types of cargo. Each year, there are more than 7,700 vessel calls at the port, which ranks first in the U.S. in foreign waterborne tonnage and second in overall total tonnage. The port authority plays a vital role in ensuring navigational safety along the Houston Ship Channel, which has been instrumental in Houston's development as a center of international trade. The Barbours Cut Container Terminal and Central Maintenance Facility are the first of any U.S. port facilities to develop and implement an innovative Environmental Management System that meets the rigorous standards of ISO 14001. The second recertification of those facilities in 2009 included an extension for the state-of-the-art Bayport Container Terminal. The port authority is the first port authority in the world to receive ISO 28000:2007 certification for its port police and the perimeter security operations at both the Barbours Cut and Bayport Terminals. Additionally, the port is an approved delivery point for Coffee "C" futures contracts traded on the New York Board of Trade's Coffee, Sugar & Cocoa Exchange. For more information, please visit www.portofhouston.com

To access the port's Web site photo gallery, please visit http://www.portofhouston.com/publicrelations/publicrelations.html and click the link for Port Authority Photo Gallery.

The Port of Houston Authority logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=720

CONTACT:  Port of Houston Authority
          Lisa Ashley, Director, Corporate Communications
            (713) 670-2644
            Cell: (832) 247-8179
          Felicia Griffin, Manager, Corporate Communications
            (713) 670-2893
            Cell: (713) 294-7185

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