Letter from CEO Tim McOsker
We are truly in unprecedented times. The COVID-19 crisis and national emergency is something we have never seen before, shutting down our global economy and restricting movement to levels we have not seen in 100 years.
This is a unique moment in our history, but Angelenos and Americans will respond the only way we know how: looking out for each other while the threat is here, while laying the groundwork for a better society once it has passed. The task ahead of us reminds me of the challenges following the tragedy of September 11.
I had the honor then of working for Mayor James K. Hahn. Like today, there was no road map for how to respond, but a great need to respond quickly and decisively. Our team conferred with one another, listened to the best advice available, and made decisions about what to close, what to keep open, how to communicate messages, adjust budgets, work with other governments and elected officials without getting caught up in politics, and — most importantly — when and how to urge people to get back to “normal.”
The effects of 9/11 would be with us for a long time, but we needed to prepare for the future. We needed to get back to “normal” as soon as it was safe to do so. And, when the new normal was upon us, we needed to be operating in a manner that kept the government structure strong for the people who relied on us in the traditional ways—for police, fire, sanitation, and the like. In other words, we needed to focus on both what was important now and on what would ensure a safe and prosperous future. We need to do the same in this COVID-19 crisis. Once again, we are in uncharted territory. Once again, the threat is international; the impact, local. Then, the front-line responders were police and firefighters; today, it is nurses, doctors and public health providers.
In both crises, regular people are pulling together to help one another. There are the few who hoard groceries and paper goods, but the vast majority of us are checking in on our neighbors, adjusting our schedules for our kids, attending worship services via the internet, buying take-out from our local restaurants, donating, and keeping a safe physical distance from one another while remaining socially connected.
Like in 2001, local, state and federal governments must infuse the economy with direct and indirect support. Governments at all levels need to cooperate with one another to make business and employee assistance programs run quickly and smoothly. We will need shovel-ready public infrastructure projects, and private projects that create jobs to move forward with haste.
When we rebound, one of the shovel-ready projects that touches on all of those is AltaSea. Before COVID-19 ground the global economy to a halt, I was joined by Supervisor Janice Hahn and two great startup founders to talk about the promise of the blue economy, which is forecast to produce more than 126,000 jobs paying $37.7 billion in wages by 2023. We need good jobs like this to carry us through these tough times.
While we work to ensure safety today, we also need to be thinking about the future. “Normal” will return. Who and what do we want to be when “normal” returns? Will we be a city that is focused on the future of education? The future of work? The strength and resiliency of our health care system? The preservation of our environment and oceans? The answers to all these can, and should be, yes.
And as we rise from these coronavirus depths to sunnier days ahead, the ocean can again breathe life into our economy. From the waterfront here at AltaSea, I can look out and see the waters where some of the earliest Angelenos found the food and resources they needed to build a community in our small slice of heaven. As everyone who has come to our city with a dream believes in their heart, anything is possible here. We will build a better future together.
Times are tough today in the markets, hospitals, and across Los Angeles. We need to do what we have done over and over again. Join together for a common goal and sacrifice for the larger whole by following a strict set of guidelines to “flatten the curve” and give our front-line public health heroes a fighting chance.
At the same time, we need to keep our eye on the future of who we want to be when this is over. I think that is a city, region, state and country that embraces a future of good jobs, a strong economy, a healthy environment and hope for our next generations. Now is the time for all of us to set that example.
Thank you for all you do.
Timothy B. McOsker is CEO of AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles and the former Chief of Staff to Mayor James Hahn
Project Blue Online
The AltaSea team is expanding our Project Blue program to reach students at home. Project Blue is a youth driven campaign exploring ocean-related art, the written word and video through a series of contests. To maximize engagement and encourage participation in these troubled times, AltaSea will reach students, parents and educators using multiple social media platforms. Our hope is to give the next generation a voice and a choice in rewriting the planet’s future regarding a healthy (ocean) environment. Please visit Project Blue for more details.
Look to AltaSea social media platforms and our electronic publications, Beacon and Trending, to see our next generations’ Project Blue submissions.