Matsuda: Washington Could Do More to Attract, Retain Investors

New study to compare Washington regulatory climate to Canada, East and Gulf Coast states

OLYMPIA — Washington state is already a world-leader in trade and export activity – but more could still be done to better position the state economically and competitively.

That’s the theory behind a new study by David Matsuda, former U.S. Maritime Administrator for President Obama. Matsuda gave a preview of his upcoming study on Washington state’s maritime infrastructure as part of the Washington Maritime Federation’s Maritime Day event Wednesday in Olympia. Keep Washington Competitive co-sponsored the presentation.

Forty percent of all jobs in Washington state are tied to trade, due in large part to an integrated system of ports. This network serves as a major job creator and economic driver for the state, Matsuda noted.

“Thanks to a landmark study done by Seattle and King County Economic Development Council and the Puget Sound Regional Council back in 2013, we know the maritime industry cluster directly employed 57,700 workers across five major subsectors, and paid out wages of $4.1 billion in the state,” said Matsuda. “Much like a diverse stock portfolio, state leaders need to understand and appreciate the strength this diverse maritime sector brings, how its resilience has helped over many economic cycles and what is needed to remain competitive.”

In his forthcoming study, due to be released this spring, Matsuda will examine the organization and health of Washington’s logistics and shipping infrastructure and compare Washington state’s port activity with that of other state port systems, including those on the Gulf and East coasts. The first part of the study will examine funding and investment; the second half will look closely at where funds are spent and how maritime infrastructure projects can support the economy. The final piece of the survey will look at the regional governance and regulatory structure – the means by which infrastructure projects are managed and approved.

“Regional investment and economic opportunities will walk away if the rules aren’t clear — that’s what happens in Third World countries. It shouldn’t happen here.”