Community Voices
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Construction jobs are just one of a number of new employment opportunities coming to San Pedro. (photo: Pixabay/

San Pedro has always been a hard-working town. From whaling to boat building and from tuna to moving America’s cargo, we are a workforce that adapts to the demands of the day. While we fight to protect and grow the existing jobs at the port, it’s important to keep an eye on other high-growth sectors and industries that will create opportunities for many future generations of San Pedrans. 

In the short term, new construction will be one area of growth in jobs. Several projects on the horizon will need skilled tradespeople to complete them. With so many new construction jobs leaving California, San Pedro could see some real upside as we build out the waterfront, add new housing units, and renovate our entertainment venues.

Energy is another way we are going to create and sustain jobs here in San Pedro. The port and tenants like AltaSea are laser-focused on how we can best use solar and kinetic wave energy to produce clean energy. I imagine it like the work NASA did to send people to the moon. Many discoveries and sciences we now use in everyday life came from the ingenuity required to send someone there and back. Energy is no different — the port is investing millions in solar to generate much of its future power needs. These will be built and maintained with union labor. Kinetic wave energy discoveries from AltaSea could create products and specialties we may eventually export throughout the rest of the world.

Aquaculture is another opportunity to create a major export from our shores and create jobs in San Pedro. Feeding the world in sustainable and less climate-impacting ways is in high demand, and this high-growth sector will lead to well-paying jobs. Growing protein in the ocean will require divers at first, but much of the skilled, high-paying jobs will come from piloting drones to maintain crops and monitor growth remotely. 

Think about that the next time you see a Cocobot driving around our San Pedro downtown. The pilots driving these vehicles delivering burgers could be developing the skills that will eventually get them paid like commercial pilots. Not to mention the San Pedro kid who will see one of these bots driving around Pedro and realize the hours they spent playing their favorite video game might lead them to a job in ocean exploration or bathymetry.

Before COVID-19, San Pedro’s arts and entertainment sector was growing rapidly. I’m not talking about all the filming opportunities, although I do love spotting Pedro on the screen. The art walks led by the late and beloved Pat Carroll, the Warner Grand’s sold-out performances, and traveling shows like Cirque du Soleil were bringing people downtown. These will return along with a 6,000-seat music venue on the waterfront. San Pedro will soon be known as a great place to grab dinner, a show, and view local art.

I look at all the outdoor dining we now have in place in San Pedro, and I see a way for us to increase our restaurant traffic while so much of L.A. is seeing a reduction. People are tired of dining at home. They want an experience and to socialize when it is safe to do so again. Outdoor dining brings energy and activity to our restaurants that draws you in. These are jobs and businesses that are family-owned and become part of your extended family the more often you go.

So many people predicted an end to tourism, especially cruises, for some time to come. Pent-up demand is bubbling over; if we can show travel, hospitality, and cruising can be done safely again, there is a good chance San Pedro will benefit the most. Each cruise ship drops about one million dollars into our local economy. But San Pedro tourism won’t just be for cruisers. We will have a “Park Once, Enjoy San Pedro” plan to get people around town in a way that will make it easier to spend a day in San Pedro for dinner, entertainment, and walks along the water. 

Building out the waterfront and including so many things to do and enjoy outside will allow San Pedro to deliver what so many people miss the most. Once we are allowed a more normal way of life, we are a lot less likely to take it for granted. There will be more places to go dancing and enjoy the nightlife here in San Pedro as well. You’ll still find me at Godmothers from time to time, but the increase in nighttime activities will give us more around-the-clock jobs and recreation.

San Pedro wasn’t built by people afraid of change. We are lucky enough to have the vision and local investment that will position us well as the globe comes back online. We will continue to innovate, adapt, and discover jobs and opportunities that will cement our place in history and what we provide for the future. spt

Lee Williams

Lee Williams leads The Lee Williams Real Estate Group at REAL Broker and is a Los Angeles Harbor Commissioner. He also serves on the board of directors for Boys & Girls Clubs of the LA Harbor, the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, Harbor Connects, and the San Pedro Education Foundation. He can be reached at