On February 27, the Chamber held its Regional Board of Directors and Trustees meeting, with nearly 50 people in attendance.
During the meeting, the group heard from Joe Dorto, President of Virginia International Terminals Inc., who provided an overview presentation of the company’s future and budgetary projections. Dorto will be leaving Virginia International Terminals Inc. at the end of March, but plans to remain close to issues surrounding the port.
Dorto began the presentation with his viewpoint on privatization, stating,” I am not at all opposed to privatization. Under the right conditions, privatization can be really good.” He went on to say that the terms and conditions for privatization do not include an unsolicited bid by the port facilities such as occurred with the APM proposal.
He addressed claims that the port is not sustainable, nor making a profit. “We were set up as a nonprofit, but we try to make as much of a profit as we can, and we pump that money back into the marine terminals and back into the business model.” The port has met or exceeded budgetary goals every year, and on a cash basis they have never lost money.
Dorto also discussed how Virginia International Terminals is a leader in the port industry. He explained, “We were the first to have an inland port, and we have a new program where we are comparing our operations and benchmarking ourselves against not only the best ports on the East Coast but the best ports in the world.” Over 300,000 port and port-related jobs come out of this port, which is 1 out of every 10 jobs in the state of Virginia.
Dorto believes that Virginia will have to decide if this port will be an economic engine or a financial engine. Dorto explained, “Most ports in the US are economic engines; they create taxes and jobs. This is what we have done, so if we need to do something different, we are perfectly capable of doing that.”
At the conclusion of his presentation, Dorto took questions from the audience.