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New report warns Washington ports could lose business to Canada

A new report from the Northwest Seaport Alliance is raising concerns that ports on the West Coast may not be able to stay competitive with those in British Columbia.

TACOMA, Wash. — The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which represents the Port of Tacoma and the Port of Seattle, released numbers showing that between 2016 and 2020, the Canadian government invested more money into ports in British Columbia than the US government invested in ports in both California and Washington.

Now, union leaders for longshoremen at the Port of Tacoma are worried about losing business to their northern neighbors.

Local 23 Union President Jared Faker says that the port’s importance for Tacoma can’t be overstated.

“The Port of Tacoma produces over 42,000 jobs in the state, producing over 2.8 billion dollars in direct wages,” Faker said. “Most of those jobs in and around the Port of Tacoma are in Tacoma and in its vicinity, so it’s extremely important.”

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Dick Marzano, who serves as the President of the Port of Tacoma commission, says losing out to ports in British Columbia will have a ripple effect nationwide. 

“At least half of our cargo that we have coming into our ports goes to the Midwest and beyond,” Marzano explained. “So it’s critically important that the federal government, along with our state, realize how important our gateway is, not just for our state, but for our nation.”

Marzano says he hopes the investment comes before it’s too late.

“When shipping lines move from one area to the next, they generally don’t want to come back,” Marzano said. “One of the things about when these shipping lines leave…is the direct jobs that’re lost, and we need to continue growing family-wage jobs and that’s a critical part of growth in our region.”

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