Port commissions approve new Seaport Alliance

On Tuesday at Auburn City Hall, the commissions of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma voted unanimously to form the Seaport Alliance and join their marine cargo facilities.

Seattle and Tacoma port commissioners voted Tuesday to join marine cargo operations.

Seattle and Tacoma port commissioners voted Tuesday to join marine cargo operations.

A detailed agreement is expected to be worked out by March 31, 2015, and then submitted to the Federal Maritime Commission for final approval.

If approved, the new alliance will unite marine cargo facilities of the two ports and create the third largest container gateway in North America.

The Seaport Alliance will manage marine cargo terminal investments and operations, planning and marketing, while the individual port commissions will retain their existing governance structures and ownership of assets.

A recent report released by the two ports estimates that the ports combined are affiliated with $138.1 billion in economic activity in the state—one third of Washington’s GDP.

As the two ports seek to make their operations more competitive, they are calling on state lawmakers to pass a statewide transportation package to complete projects that improve freight movement on roadways, including fixes to SR 167 and SR 509.

Harbor maintenance tax relief for Seattle and Tacoma ports

Happy National Maritime Day!  The holiday was created by Congress in 1933 to recognize the maritime industry and commemorate the date in 1819 when the American steamship Savannah embarked on the first-ever transoceanic voyage under steam power.

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New legislation reforms the Harbor Maintenance Tax and makes the ports of Seattle and Tacoma more competitive.

Nearly 200 years later, maritime remains a big contributor to economic prosperity and growth in the central Puget Sound.

A major issue that has long affected the competitiveness of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma has been the Harbor Maintenance Tax, a tax charged to shippers to fund dredging.

The problem is that Puget Sound ports are naturally deep and don’t require regular dredging, which means local ports are charging a federal tax that is used to improve other U.S. ports with no local return.

As “donor ports,” the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma currently receive pennies for each dollar they contribute, while other ports receive millions.

A provision in the bipartisan Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) will help fix that.

The legislation reforms the Harbor Maintenance Tax for the first time to authorize the return of a portion of the tax to shippers that use eligible donor ports like Seattle and Tacoma.

The provision builds on existing efforts from Senators Murray and Cantwell to overhaul the outdated Harbor Maintenance Tax and Trust Fund and keep American ports like Seattle and Tacoma competitive in the global marketplace.

Addressing the Harbor Maintenance Tax to ensure the continued competitiveness of Puget Sound ports has been a longstanding priority of the Prosperity Partnership in support of the Regional Economy Strategy.

This major legislation also authorizes investment in the nation’s waterways and the work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including flood prevention and navigation.

The House and Senate passed the measure this week, and it’s now on its way to the President for his signature.



Maritime industry fuels local economy

Check out this great Port of Tacoma video that follows longshoreman Eddie Flores around town as he spends his paycheck. Eddie is a ILWU Local 23 member.

An estimated 40% of the jobs in Washington state are related to international trade. And the central Puget Sound region is home to a thriving maritime industry, which generates about $30 billion annually in Washington state. Maritime wages average $70,800 per year.

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Port of Everett plays key role in $4 billion logistics and shipping

With over $4 billion in gross business income, a new economic impact study shows the maritime industry’s logistics and shipping subsector pumped over $1.1 billion in wages into Washington State’s economy in 2012.

The Port of Everett ranks 5th on the West Coast in terms of cargo value.

The Port of Everett ranks 5th on the West Coast in terms of cargo value.

The Port of Everett alone directly employed almost 14,000 workers and the port’s activities directly supported a total of 34,000 jobs. Because of its special relationship with the aerospace industry, it ranked second statewide in terms of port export value and is fifth on the West Coast by cargo value.

Home to seven shipping lines, the Port of Everett operates the largest public marina on the West Coast with over 2,300 slips, and plays a strategic role in serving the state’s aerospace industry by importing parts for assembly of aircraft by Boeing and others.

To learn more about the impact of this key seaport, check out this video produced by the Port of Everett.

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Maritime Industry: Better Financing for Shipbuilding Needed

Change in federal law and advances in fish factory design mean that 400 fishing boats – some costing more than $50 million each – will be built over the next 25 years in the U.S. But ship builders are having trouble financing new boats.

U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Mark Begich (D-AK) highlight the importance of fishing and shipbuilding jobs to Washington and Alaska.

U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Mark Begich (D-AK) highlight the importance of fishing and shipbuilding jobs to Washington and Alaska.

That’s why Senator Maria Cantwell, who serves on a Senate committee that covers marine fisheries and ocean policy, recently met with Puget Sound shipbuilders to discuss ways to make it easier to find financial backing for boats. A Seattle Times article explains more.

The Puget Sound region has a lot riding on the success of this effort.

According to a recent economic impact study, ship and boat building, maintenance and repair, along with fishing and seafood processing, supported a total of over 33,000 jobs in 2012 statewide. The majority of these jobs are located in this region.

Salaries are good in this industry – electrical and electronics installers average $91,000 per year, while naval architects bring in about $117,000. Fishers and related fishing workers average $70,000.


Maritime Stories: Boatbuilding Returns to Tacoma

Sometimes what’s old is new again.


Todd Pacific Shipyards, Tacoma, 1940s

Todd Shipyards at the Port of Tacoma employed 30,000 men and women during World War II to build ships and small aircraft carriers serving the war effort.

The shipyard closed after the war, and shipbuilding shifted to other areas.

Until now.

SAFE Boats and Citadel Yachts expanded their businesses to Tacoma recently, citing the number of highly skilled craftspeople in the area as well as the facilities that supported shipbuilding.

SAFE Boats builds large U.S. Navy patrol boats, and Citadel builds custom steel-hulled expedition yachts with high-end fixtures. Both businesses use the same launching ramps that Todd Shipyards once used.

Boatbuilding isn’t just on the upswing in Tacoma –a new maritime industry economic impact study found that both the number of firms and total jobs in this field increased statewide between 2011 and 2012.

Ship and Boat Building, Maintenance and Repair directly employed 16,700 workers in 2012, up from 16,000 the year before.

This is one of a series of blog posts taking a closer look at the people, companies and jobs in our region’s maritime industry. PSRC helped support a recent economic impact study of this important cluster.



Maritime Industry Diverse, Increasingly Green

What’s behind the $30 billion a new economic impact study found that the maritime industry is pumping into the state’s economy each year?

The Northern Leader, designed by Seattle-based Jensen Maritime Consultants, is one of the greenest fishing ships afloat.

The Northern Leader, designed by Seattle-based Jensen Maritime Consultants, is one of the greenest fishing ships afloat.

A big driver is the diversity of this industry cluster – it covers everything from fishing and seafood products, which produces $8.6 billion in revenue annually, to maritime logistics and shipping, responsible for revenues of $3.7 billion per year.

Over 28% of the jobs in maritime come from the boat and ship building, repair and maintenance subsector.

Jobs in this subsector pay well — $70,500 per year – and the boats that workers build and repair are increasingly high-tech and very green.

For example, the 184-foot vessel Northern Leader was designed by Seattle-based Jensen Maritime Consultants to be the greenest fishing ship afloat.

It uses 100% LED lighting and a diesel electric power management system for top fuel efficiency.

Even its fish processing systems are designed to reduce waste and maximize value of the catch by utilizing the less valuable products.

In fact, at the Northern Leader’s christening (video) at J.M. Martimac Shipyard in Tacoma Governor Jay Inslee dubbed the Northern Leader the most innovative boat built in the last 20 years!