The Port of Virginia operates six different terminals, covering nearly 2,000 acres in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but our responsibilities extend far beyond our gates.
"Social sustainability is built into the port's mission statement, making it just as important to us as fiscal and environmental sustainability," said John Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the port. "In many ways, these three areas of sustainability overlap when it comes to giving back."
In fiscal year 2016 (FY16), The Port of Virginia welcomed 15 college students into the summer internship program. After the program had concluded, three of those students began work at the port, aiding us in building a cost-effective workforce with talented and experienced colleagues. Meanwhile, our port's involvement with the Communities in Schools outreach program exposed five high school students to career opportunities in the maritime industry.
In total, our FY16 community outreach efforts comprised more than 40 events in various areas — from the support of local colleges and universities to community service organizations. Our volunteers partnered with CSX and SKW Constructors to clean more than 3.5 miles of shoreline removing 6,000 pounds of trash from the Elizabeth River as part of the annual Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Clean the Bay Day. Our commitment to the sustainability of the Elizabeth River grows year after year, having earned us 17 consecutive River Star awards from the Elizabeth River Project.
Our Volunteer Council spearheads much of our community involvement. In FY16, through the council's leadership, we raised $29,000 for the United Way and delivered 2,100 pounds of canned goods to the FoodBank of Southeastern Virginia.
In addition to serving our communities at-large, our programs support the needs of our port partners as well as publicly owned marine facilities. Truck drivers are an integral part of our supply chain — moving nearly two-thirds of The Port of Virginia's cargo. It's fitting that our employees delivered gift bags, safety vests and hats to more than 1,000 of those drivers during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week in September.
In FY16, we were able to present seven awards across Hampton Roads through our annual Aid to Local Ports program, a grant program allowing local governments to apply for a portion of $1,000,000 in designated funds. As an example, in FY16 the City of Newport News received more than $630,000 for the replacement of a bulkhead at the Seafood Industrial Park.
"Without the grant, the city would be unable to deliver full funding to make this major upgrade to one of our prime revenue-generating assets, without sacrificing other capital improvement needs," said Florence Kingston, director of the department of development for the City of Newport News.
From Isle of Wight County to the Eastern Shore, thousands of dollars were awarded for marine facility improvements. Aid to Local Ports is one of the many ways we contribute to the sustainability of the communities we touch throughout the year.