At its annual Community Breakfast event on April 23, about 240 people — Port customers, business partners, civic leaders and members of the Tacoma-Pierce County community — gathered at Tacoma’s Hotel Murano to hear the Port of Tacoma’s annual “State of the Port” address and to learn about five noteworthy Port Partnerships.
Following the “State of the Port” address by Port of Tacoma Executive Director Timothy J. Farrell — which covered Port development, trade volumes and trade issues — members of the Port of Tacoma Commission presented the Partnership Spotlight recognitions.
Community Organization Partnership Spotlight
Tacoma Urban League
In 2007, the Port and Tacoma Urban League partnered to bring the Youth Leadership Conservation Corps program to the Port area, where at-risk youth went to work doing conservation work, including maintenance and beautification work at the Gog-le-hi-te Wetland, at Port stormwater conveyances and terminal security buffer zones, such as Rhone-Poulenc Habitat Area.
Through hard work, the program’s intent is to give young men and women a path to the future by emphasizing self-esteem, leadership, self-mastery, higher-order thinking skills, cultural diversity and respect for self and others.
Environmental Partnership Spotlight
Cascade Land Conservancy, City of Tacoma and Schnitzer Steel
Through a unique partnership among business, government and a land conservation organization, more than 31 acres of forested open space between the Port of Tacoma’s industrial activity and Northeast Tacoma neighborhoods was protected in perpetuity.
The Port of Tacoma invested $1.5 million for the forested land, known as “Julia’s Gulch,” while the City of Tacoma added $300,000. Schnitzer Steel provided $320,500 toward the purchase and stewardship of the land. One of the unique aspects of Schnitzer Steel’s contribution was $75,000 dedicated exclusively to the ongoing stewardship of the land. Under the agreement, the Cascade Land Conservancy holds a conservation easement on the property to monitor and protect the land, ensuring it remains open space forever.
Industrial Development Partnership Spotlight
In October 2006, the Port of Tacoma announced the sale of approximately 70 acres of land in its Frederickson Industrial Area to Swedish home furnishings retailer, IKEA. Since then, IKEA officials have worked closely with the Port’s Industrial and Commercial Real Estate staff. In February 2008, the company began to open its Northwestern Distribution Center – one of the largest buildings in Pierce County. The 834,000 square foot building has potential for future expansion to more than 1 million square feet.
Business Partnership Spotlight
Emerald Home Furnishings
Emerald Home Furnishings is a full-line supplier to home furniture retailers throughout North America, featuring fabric and leather upholstery and motion furniture, casual and formal dining room furniture, bedroom suites and a complete line of occasional and accent pieces.
Emerald employs about 100 people in its Tacoma facility, and a total of 130 people worldwide. The company’s annual payroll in Puget Sound is about $4 million, and each year spends about $3 million in local purchases. The company occupies a 200,000 square foot building that houses corporate offices, distribution, Northwest showroom and mattress manufacturing facilities.
Emerald has showrooms in North Carolina and Nevada, with sourcing offices in China, Malaysia and Vietnam, in addition to its home office in Tacoma. Emerald operates its own fleet of trucks covering eleven western U.S. states.
Globally, Emerald has five factory warehouse facilities located in Shanghai, as well as a warehouse facility in Malaysia. And each year, the company imports about $20 million worth of goods through the Port of Tacoma, using shipping lines such as Yang Ming Line and Hyundai Merchant Marine.
“As a businessman, I know the importance of focusing on your customers and your products in order to grow and succeed,” said Port Commissioner Don Johnson. “This company excels at doing both.”
Economic Development Partnership Spotlight
Puyallup Tribe of Indians, SSA Containers, Inc. and Marine View Ventures
As the Port of Tacoma redevelops the Blair-Hylebos Peninsula to increase cargo capacity and better serve the Tacoma-Pierce County community, its customers and the regional economy … it is not doing it alone.
On the east side of the Blair Waterway, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, its economic development corporation, Marine View Ventures and SSA Containers, Inc. are also planning a container terminal development.
“Planning any one of these projects is complex,” said Port of Tacoma Commission President Dick Marzano. “Planning several side by side is exponentially more complex. That’s why we’re so thankful that these partners worked with us on a Memorandum of Intent that was signed in February, and the final agreements that were signed April 22.”
The four agreements provide the foundation for coordinating plans where possible to maximize connections and minimize impacts to all customers. They include an exchange of land to improve the footprint of future Tribe/SSA terminal and future Port terminal developments, an agreement to cooperate in the widening of the Blair Waterway, a lease of Port land and berthing by SSA Containers, and an agreement by all parties to cooperate on terminal development, road and intermodal rail development and other areas of future cooperation.