[EDITOR’S NOTE: See correction at end of article.]
Trade has a proud tradition on the Central Coast, beginning with the shipping of cattle hides as chronicled by Richard Henry Dana in the 1830s.
The thriving industry chronicled in Dana’s book, “Two Years’ Before the Mast,” would soon fade but it would be replaced by new agribusinesses.
By the 1870s, the Port of Hueneme was in its early stages with, with Thomas Bard beginning construction of a large wharf off Ventura County.
The modern Port of Hueneme, which celebrates 75 years in business this year, traces its roots to 1937 with the formation of Oxnard Harbor District, the governing body of the port.
The Port of Hueneme we know today really took shape during and after World War II when the Navy took over the facility and built out much of the infrastructure that exists today. At the end of the war, the port was the second-busiest on the West Coast.
While the end of the war brought fears of inflation or a new recession, others correctly foresaw a boom in global trade. The 1948 decision by the federal government to return Wharf No. 1 for commercial use reinvigorated the port’s commercial prospects.
The tide of international trade rose again in the late 1970s thanks to the arrival of Asian and European autos in the U.S. market. The port’s auto boom was quickly followed by Del Monte Fresh’s decision to locate a large facility on the wharf.
Fast forward to 2013 and the Port has a roughly $1 billion million impact on the region, with nearly 10,000 jobs related directly or indirectly to the activities of the Harbor District.
Autos, fruits and vegetables, mainstays of the Port’s activities, are on the rise, a sign that both the port and the global economy are in expansion mode.
On May 22, the Port of Hueneme officially celebrated its 75th anniversary amid strong trade activity and bright prospects for the decade ahead.
Not only is the port an incredibly valuable asset for the region, but its activity levels give the entire region a way of measuring the strength of the global economy from a Central Coast perspective.
One of the hallmarks of the Port of Hueneme under Director Kristin Decas has been a much greater level of transparency and much more information about activities. We applaud those developments and hope they continue as the Oxnard Harbor District strides confidently toward the century mark.
[CORRECTION: A previous version of this article gave an incorrect dollar amount for the economic impact of the port. It is $1 billion.]