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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

December 3, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Markers for the seaport alliance

Commissioners of the Port of Seattle and the Port of Tacoma are holding town halls to seek public comments on the proposed seaport alliance between the two. For example, one will be held today from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Kent City Hall. On Thursday, another will take place at Pacific Lutheran University’s Anderson Center at the same time.

Here are some of my questions and markers:

1. Probably the most important issue facing the Puget Sound ports is falling market share compared with their rivals along the West Coast. This isn’t something commissioners can address fully until the alliance is finalized. But a strategic plan with specifics on marketing, outreach to shippers and assessing/employing the best practices of other ports worldwide, as well as measurable outcomes and timetables are essential. Underlying these plans should be strategies to address the wider Panama Canal and the rising competition from the Port of Price Rupert in B.C.

2. Who is going to be at the table as the alliance sets its goals? It should include terminal operators, unions, railroads, truckers, Puget Sound shippers, inland Washington shippers including agriculture, the fishing fleet and the broader maritime community. Yes, this is primarily about containers. But the more sectors and stakeholders heard, the better.

3. The alliance will be managing two of the best natural deep-water ports in America. How will business be apportioned to be fair to both Tacoma and Seattle, while maximizing the strength of the combination?

4. How does this change the Port of Seattle’s Century Agenda?

5. What strategy and tactics will the ports employ to gain a more maritime-friendly Legislature, especially on transportation funding?

6. How will the alliance affect staffing at the ports?

7. How will it affect taxes?

8. How will it approach identifying, prioritizing and funding infrastructure projects essential to keeping the ports competitive, especially as its most significant rivals continue to spend on upgrades?

This is only a start. A huge segment of the state’s economy is riding on a successful port alliance.


Today’s Econ Haiku:

How long do you think

Bellevue would let protesters

Trash its sales-tax base?


 

Comments | More in Ports of Seattle and Tacoma | Topics: Port alliance, Port of Seattle, Port of Tacoma

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