Our Voice: Port of Seattle looks for east side partnerships

In Eastern Washington we often feel ignored by those on the other side of the state.

Seattle media are quick to pounce on anything Hanford related that can be the list bit skewed to the negative, and many people in the Puget Sound have no clue just how robust an economy we enjoy here.

But one of the biggest entities there has taken notice.

The Port of Seattle made a recent visit here to look at expanding its partnerships beyond the King County.

There the port operates the SeaTac Airport, container cargo operations at the waterfront and the maritime division which includes fishing fleets and cruise ships. Economic development is the other mainstay of the port’s mission. And that’s precisely why the port’s chief executive and the managing director of economic development came over here for a visit.

Yakima, Moses Lake and Tri-Cities were on their agenda. They met with business leaders and economic development entities to explore what kind of opportunities may potentially exist here for the port.

What those collaborations could eventually look like is anyone’s guess. But the fact that they spent a few days of their quite valuable time here makes us think they’re serious.

While the port, which is the second largest landowner in King County, can’t own property outside of those boundaries, it can develop business partnerships.

Because of our great rail system with both Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe lines here, one idea may be send shipping containers coming into the port here for distribution across the nation. We have lots of available land here, especially when compared to the Puget Sound.

Another idea would be to encourage tourism outside the Puget Sound for cruise ship passengers and other visitors. A campaign to market an excursion via a commuter plane out of the port’s SeaTac airport to Pasco could be another potential collaboration.

The visionary behind this is the port’s CEO, Ted Fick, a Washington native who has been on the job for just about a year. Fick has committed to adding more than 100,000 new jobs to our state’s economy. And that doesn’t mean solely at the port’s home base.

One of Fick’s biggest successes to date has been the Northwest Seaport Alliance made official in August, a cooperative effort between the ports of Seattle and Tacoma to increase trade and jobs. It’s an unprecedented move in the competitive world of cargo and shipping operations.

We’re confident we’ll see some action behind his recent fact-finding mission in the Columbia Valley.