Montana, Wyoming leaders encourage development of Washington commodity terminals to bolster regional economy, trade and exports
SEATTLE — Legislative, labor and business leaders from Washington, Montana and Wyoming gathered at the Port of Seattle today to draw attention to this disparity between the booming economic conditions in Seattle and rest of the state, which is desperately seeking investments and family friendly wage jobs.
“One look at the skyline here, and you know the city of Seattle’s economy is booming. In neighboring Pierce and Snohomish counties, things are slowly getting better,” said Mark Martinez, executive secretary of the Washington State Building & Construction Trades Council. “But in most rural areas of the state, there remains a real struggle for jobs and a foothold out of an economic recession.”
Today’s tour was designed to highlight the economic potential of bulk-commodity export terminal projects in Washington state, including Gateway Pacific in Bellingham and Millennium Bulk Terminals in Longview. Critical permits for both projects, which are supported by billions of dollars in private financing, have languished for more than three years. Just last week, the state announced another open-ended delay to the Millennium project which would take that review well into next year.
Martinez added, “The proposed export terminals in Bellingham and Longview will provide much-needed economic boost, putting people back to work and strengthening communities by providing good, family-wage jobs that are sorely lacking outside of King County. Our members support these projects because they understand the positive impact they will have on the communities where they live.”
Wyoming Senate President Phil Nicholas, R-Laramie, said the tour underscores the disconnect between what’s happening in rural and urban communities across the country.
“When you ask the people directly impacted by these projects – who live and work and raise their families in these communities, you’ll get a better understanding of the support for projects like Millennium. I know that is true of the people in my district in Laramie and of my colleagues here in Longview,” said Nicholas.
“These projects represent real people, real lives. They want to work and they want to help their communities get stronger. Trade is one of the best ways to do that, and this project will go a long way toward helping ensure a future for not only the citizens of Wyoming but many others in Washington and Montana, too.”
Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business, said the terminals are an important piece of the state’s overall competitiveness and global trade profile.
“Washington state is in a race with our neighbors to the north and south, as well as with other countries who are preparing their ports for bigger and faster container shipments. We need to protect our position as a global trade leader by making smart investment in our port infrastructure,” Johnson said. “We can no longer rely on just one or two industries to drive our economy. Projects like Millennium and Gateway help us enhance our trade efforts and help diversify our workforce.”
Representing a rural Montana district, Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, said this project is critical for his constituents.
“The Millennium Bulk Terminals would provide a vital economic lifeline for rural communities in Washington and Montana alike. Energy exports are the lifeblood of my district. The families in my district need these jobs to feed their families, fund their schools and support local stores and businesses. The same is true of the people in Longview.”
Ankney added, “Millennium will offer good paying, family-wage jobs that help our economy in Montana, and our regional economy here in the West. They are a key part of our trade infrastructure, and they are essential to ensuring the future of these rural communities, where there are limited employment opportunities.”
Montana Rep. Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, concluded by noting that projects like these reflect a concerted effort by states to work together on economic revitalization.
“These terminals have the potential to revitalize and strengthen communities all across the West,” said Essmann. “This is an opportunity for Washington, Montana and Wyoming to work together on a project that will benefit not just our local economies, but our state and regional economies as well.”