SEATTLE -- The Ports of Tacoma and Olympia, Wash. this week are formalizing a collaboration agreement which includes joint efforts to increase market share and cargo movements through both hubs.
Olympia's port commissioners approved a Memorandum of Understanding "regarding cooperation in areas of mutual interest" Monday evening and the Tacoma Port Commission was expected to act favorably on the same memorandum on Thursday.
The memo "formalizes our intent to work together for the mutual benefit of both ports and the region," said John Wolfe, the Port of Tacoma's deputy executive director.
He said that cooperation on regional economic development opportunities will provide significant benefits, including increased job opportunities in the region; increased cargo flows through each port; leveraging the capacity and operational efficiencies of the ports, and improving investments in rail infrastructure. "This Memorandum of Understanding provides a framework to broaden our efforts," Wolfe said.
The agreement "is not real specific," said Mike Wasem, Tacoma port spokesman, "but as the relationship develops we'll see initiatives and projects emerge."
Cooperation between the two ports has already begun. Last year the ports formed a strategic partnership to improve regional rail system capacity, establish a center for warehousing and distribution, and create a major South Puget Sound employment center.
A major element of that action called for the ports to cooperatively purchase, plan and develop a South Sound Logistics Center on a 745-acre site in Thurston County, along Interstate 5. The property is a former industrial site that currently has permitting in place for gravel mining. It is near rail tracks used by BNSF Railway, Union Pacific Railroad, and the Mountain Division of Tacoma Rail, a division of Tacoma Public Utilities. Under terms of that interlocal agreement, the two ports have until Dec. 31 to sign a final Joint Operating Agreement.
The proposed South Sound Logistics Center will provide a centralized, rail-served location for manufacturers, distributors and cargo handlers, the ports said. By co-locating businesses that use the state's rail and highway networks at the logistics center "trains and trucks can avoid multiple stops every day at widely dispersed business locations to receive or deliver rail cars or trailers. Instead, those businesses will be served at one location," they said.