James White, Executive Director of the Maryland Port Administration, will leave at the end of the year

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James White

Posted December 5, 2019

James J. White announced late Wednesday he will resign as executive director of the Maryland Port Administration at the end of the year.

White led the Port of Baltimore to record growth during two stints totaling 18 years leading the agency. His resignation is effective Dec. 31. The Port Administration has not named a successor.

Under White's leadership, the Port of Baltimore improved its national rankings, upgraded security procedures and completed infrastructure projects that made it one of the few ports in America capable of receiving the largest ships in the world.

“There is no better job that I have had in my life than being executive director of the MDOT MPA,” White said in a statement.

White led the effort to execute a 50-year lease and concession agreement with Ports America Chesapeake to operate the Port of Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal. The landmark deal included construction of a 50-foot deep container berth and four state-of-the-art supersized container cranes.

The port also started a year-round cruising program, entered into long-term contracts with two of its largest cargo customers and broke multiple cargo records during White's leadership.

Last year the port handled a record 43 million tons of international cargo worth $59.7 billion combined between the state-owned public and privately owned marine terminals. The state-owned public terminals handled a record 10.9 million tons of general cargo.

The port also handled a record 850,147 cars and light trucks in 2018, the most in the U.S. for the eighth consecutive year. White oversaw the purchase of 70 acres at Point Breeze to give the port more space for handling its growing amount of cargo.

Gov. Larry Hogan praised White as being "widely regarded as one of the finest port directors in America."

“Maryland has been fortunate to have him at the helm of the Port of Baltimore for so long," Hogan said in a statement. "I congratulate him on an outstanding career and thank him for leaving the Port of Baltimore in fantastic shape for his successor.”

The Port of Baltimore leads the nation in handling autos and light trucks, roll-on and roll-off heavy farm and construction machinery, as well as imported sugar and gypsum. The port generates 15,330 direct jobs and 139,180 more are linked to its overall activities. Business at the port produces $395 million in state and local tax revenue.

“Jim’s legacy is not only in the tremendous amounts of cargo and revenue that have passed through the Port of Baltimore under his leadership, but in the many careers he has created in Baltimore and around the state,” Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn said in a statement.

In recent years White has been focused on the efforts to reconstruct Baltimore’s 125-year old Howard Street Tunnel to allow double-stacked container trains to travel to and from the Port of Baltimore. The Port Administration views a lack of double-stacking as the one inhibitor preventing the port from realizing its full potential.

White was able to secure a $91 million commitment from CSX Corp., which owns the tunnel, even after the company had pulled out of a previous deal. He also secured a $125 million grant from the federal government. Maryland has committed $147 million so far toward the $466 million project.

Hogan's administration has not said how it plans to close the remaining $103 million gap, but because of White the project is closer than ever to becoming a reality. The port is also moving ahead with the construction of a second 50-foot berth at Seagirt expected to be completed by fall 2020.

White joined the Maryland Port Administration in 1993 as director of operations. From 1995 until his appointment as executive director in 1999, he served as deputy executive director.

During his first stint as executive director, White led the Port of Baltimore as it established new records for cargo volumes and dollar value. Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, he oversaw development of a security program that transitioned from a focus on preventing port-related crime to preventing acts of terrorism.

White left the Port Administration in 2005 to become senior vice president and chief operating officer for New Jersey-based Ceres Terminals, a stevedoring and terminal operations company with major port operations in North America. He returned in 2007 after being appointed by Gov. Martin O'Malley.

After Hogan took office in 2015, he remained onboard. White has said his initial meeting with Hogan helped invigorate him.

“Governor Hogan’s support for the Port of Baltimore from day one has set the course for the future of the port from the Howard Street Tunnel to key infrastructure investments," White said. "I’ve also been lucky to have had an outstanding executive team helping me every step of the way. But the heart and soul of the Port of Baltimore are the thousands of men and women who work here every day, rain or shine, who have helped propel this Port to incredible heights.

"I will forever be grateful for their efforts.”

Source: Baltimore Business Journal