Port of Seattle headquarters, Pier 69, Seattle, Washington. • Photo by Joe Mabel
Port of Seattle headquarters, Pier 69, Seattle, Washington. • Photo by Joe Mabel

The Port of Seattle Headquarters was the site for the October 13, 2016 Ethnic Chamber of Commerce Coalition event for information and networking. Ted Fick, CEO of the Port of Seattle was the keynote speaker. Mike Sotelo, founding member of the ECCC, introduced them. The topics were minority community engagement, economic development, and work force development opportunities.  

Organized by the Office of Social Responsibility (OSR), the event was attended by the Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce, King County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Korean American Chamber of Commerce WA, Greater Seattle Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce, the Filipino Chamber of Commerce, and other guests.

To further clarify the role of the Port of Seattle, international consultant Mitsue Cook interviewed Director of the Office of Social Responsibility Luis Navarro and Maritime Media Officer Peter McGraw. The following questions and answers provide information on the Port of Seattle’s goals and its outreach to the community.

What is the Port of Seattle and what is its mission and vision?

Port of Seattle: The Port of Seattle is a public agency that manages international trade and travel in King County. It operates harbor facilities and SeaTac International Airport.

The mission of the Port of Seattle is to create good jobs by advancing trade and commerce, promoting manufacturing and maritime growth and stimulating economic development.

The vision is to add 100,000 jobs through economic growth led by the Port, for a total of 300,000 Port related jobs in the region, while reducing our environmental footprint. The Port is committed to creating opportunity for all, stewarding our environment responsibility, partnering with surrounding communities, promoting social responsibility, conducting ourselves transparently, and holding ourselves accountable.

Focused on regional growth, the Port of Seattle will use its influence to promote small business growth and workforce development by increasing workforce training, job and business opportunities in maritime, trade, travel, and logistics.  

What is the business of the Port of Seattle?

Port of Seattle: As a landlord type of agency, the Port is responsible for the management of the land and facilities at SeaTac Airport. The airport is operated by tenants. It is the same for the maritime and trade industries. The Port is responsible for the ground and the building leases.

The Port is both the administration and the owner of the facilities where the tenants and third parties operate. For the marine industry, this includes the cruise lines, the crane operators, the shipping companies, etc. The tenants and third parties operate and provide jobs in those physical areas. For the airport, this includes the concessions, travel services, facilities maintenance services, etc.

What is the mission of the Office of Social Responsibility?

Port of Seattle: It is to promote socially impactful policy that develops responsible strategies that are based on equity, inclusion, and equal access.

It encourages minority, women and disadvantaged community owned businesses to seek business opportunities in the maritime, trade or airport sectors. It also supports the dissemination of information about employment opportunities provided by industry tenants and working partnerships at the airport and maritime sectors. Working closely with its departments, it supports socially responsible programs at the Port such as small business and workforce development, community giving, environmental stewardship, inclusivity and fairness which support people reaching their full potential.

What are some of the target communities?

Port of Seattle: One of its aims is to reach the local minority communities: the communities of color, women, the immigrant communities, the refugee communities, and other disadvantaged communities. The future workforce will be very diverse, and the Port is very supportive of a workforce that reflects our changing community.

The Small Business Program is aimed at increasing the number of small business relationships, including minority and women owned businesses and those who are disadvantaged.

The Port must do all it can to ensure that regional youth are informed of skilled trades training and job opportunities in the aeronautics, maritime and trade sectors. It also reaches out to communities of color and women. Some of these target groups are youth and adults of color, immigrants, and refugees.

What employment opportunities exist at the Port of Seattle?

Port of Seattle: The Port supports quality job programs to inspire youth to pursue maritime-related career opportunities. Ten high school interns were placed with maritime and manufacturing industry partners, such as Center for Wooden Boats, Virginia V, NW Maritime Association, Vigor, Filson, and Status Ceramics.  

How is the Port reaching the youth population?

Port of Seattle: The Port opens the doors for young people to explore existing opportunities. The doors are open wider than in the past. More than half of the high school internship positions were filled through its partnership with the City of Seattle’s Summer Youth Employment Program.

How is the Port reaching out to target communities?

Port of Seattle: Primary targets for internships are high school students. The Port is partnering with community based organizations and local schools and initiating ways to use social media, Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of communication familiar to the target audience. This involves “pushing” of pertinent appropriate information to high school students. It also involves providing ways for high school students to “pull” relevant information that interests them in future employment by the Port of Seattle or tenants of the Port of Seattle.  

Examples of other ways of communicating information would be the Port of Seattle web site, print media, and community outreach.

What kinds of wages are there in the maritime and trade fields? What kinds of skills and professional characteristics is the Office looking for?

Port of Seattle: The skilled sectors of the maritime industry can pay up to $70,000-$100,000, depending on the type of work. A skilled electrician or welder working on a ship might earn more than a welder or an electrician on a residential job. Working on a ship requires more specialized training and skills.

Middle-class wages and, therefore, family wages require more than basic math skills, because many of the calculations that maritime and trade specialists do on a daily basis are complex.

The trades industry depends on having workers who are reliable, respectful, as well as being team players. It is important that workers for the Port of Seattle have respect for elders and those who are more experienced.

The trades’ vocational training will assure that critical work skills are developed appropriately for different types of jobs. The proper training will bring prospective students to the finish line to become journeymen. Young minority youth may not have another chance to have this kind of opportunity.  As a public agency, our office tries to be as inclusive as possible.

The Port does not hire on behalf of the industries. The tenants and third parties do their own hiring. This includes the hiring of airport employees.

For more information, contact the Office of Social Responsibility at (206) 787-5775 or [email protected].

[Update 4/22/20] To know more about Seattle –Tacoma Airport, go to https://seattle-tacoma-airport.com/

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