Preserving and Strengthening Washington’s Maritime Industry: Recommendations from Legislative Task Force

In The Lens, Matt Rosenberg reports on the economic impact of the state’s maritime industries and highlights recommendations from a legislative task force. 

According to a report from the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County, they generate $30 billion a year in combined direct and indirect revenues. The maritime cluster directly employed 57,700 workers in 2012 and was tied to another 90,000 indirect and induced jobs.

But there’s ample room to grow opportunity and income from the industry. That’s the take-away from a new draft final report approved this week by Washington state lawmakers on the Joint Task Force on Economic Resilience of Maritime and Manufacturing.

The task force frames the challenge this way:

The economic well-being of Washington requires state-of-the-art infrastructure, a highly trained workforce, and robust international trade. The maritime and manufacturing sectors are reliable sources of family wage jobs and provide support for the middle class and for a diverse economy.


The draft recommendations align well with our Achieve, Connect and Employ priorities.

Rosenberg writes,

Key recommendations in the report included a greater emphasis within K-12 education on careers in the maritime industries. This would be facilitated through Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs and the passage in 2017 of a related career and technical education measure, Senate Bill 6661.

He also cites comments by Jordan Royer, VP of External Affairs for the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.

Royer said shippers are looking at “costs, reliability, regulatory certainty” and it’s important to see “the way the Canadians are doing it. They have everything aligned: governments, businesses, land use policies, transportation investments…That’s very attractive to my members…to call there when they’re trying to get a box from China to Chicago…I think a lot of work needs to be done” in Washington including a much closer “look at public private partnerships (P3s) on infrastructure investments the way they do it in Canada.”

AWB’s quarterly magazine, Washington Business, also examined the maritime industries in an article in its Winter 2016 issue, Washington’s Working Waterfronts

In our foundation report, we called attention to the importance of the maritime industry and trade to the state economy, saying, 

Washington’s economy is highly dependent on global trade. The state ranks second in the nation in exports per capita. According to the Washington Council on International Trade, 40 percent of the jobs in the state are related to trade in some way. Given its many trade advantages, the state is well-positioned to continue to be a leader in international trade for years to come.

For that vision to be realized, it’s important that policymakers take steps to preserve and strengthen the state’s maritime industry.