PORT TOWNSEND — The importance of the marine trades sector in Jefferson County and the region will be discussed Thursday at a public meeting at the Northwest Maritime Center.
The meeting at the center at 431 Water St. will begin at 5:30 p.m.
The Port Townsend Marine Trades Association (PTMTA) will reveal the findings of its commissioned study prepared by Martin Associates, an internationally recognized economic and transportation consulting firm based in Pennsylvania.
The presentation will be made by its author, John Martin, Ph.D., who has studied more than 500 ports in the United States and Canada.
Joshua Berger, state Department of Commerce Maritime Sector lead, will provide an update on the state’s Maritime Blue Initiative that calls for a “strong, sustainable maritime industry.”
“This study is a clarion call to show the community the importance of the jobs we have and those we are poised to create,” said Chris Sanok, PTMTA president and co-owner of the Shipwrights Co-Op in the Boat Haven.
“Between the marine trades, the fisheries, science, education, and tourism, the maritime community is one of the largest economic engines in the county and a net revenue generator, he said.
“The PTMTA created a task force to get this study done,” he explained. “PTMTA member Gwendolyn Tracy of Fine Yachts Interiors lead the group effort. The community pulled together and paid for it.
“We feel given the challenges faced by the port right now, it’s extremely important that the community understands the value, the number, and the quality of jobs that the marine trades bring to this county.”
Sanok said the PTMTA felt it was imperative to find answers to concerns faced by some of its members.
“We did the study because the Port of Port Townsend is facing serious challenges, some due to recent actions by port management that threaten that marine trades and its future in Port Townsend.
“We wanted to provide information as part of this conversation so the port can get back on track, encouraging businesses and business investment for those of us located in the port.
“In the face of these threats, we felt it was vital to quantify the impact of these businesses. It’s not a bunch of shed boys pursuing their hobbies. These are the kind of family wages jobs where someone can come to this community and support their family on.”
Sanok said he was an independent business owner for 15 years in the port.
“Now I’m co-owner of the Shipwrights Co-Op. I was able to come to the port, create my own business, support my family and become part of the community here. Now I’m part of a business that has 40 employees. At the end of they day, they all go home with good paychecks because of the eco-system that’s been built here.”
Sanok explained how all the trades are inter-related and the impact the port has on daily business.
“The shipwrights are here because of the fishermen. New Day Fisheries buys the fish and ships it across the street to Safeway and, literally, all over the world. There is an opportunity to expand his business and double the amount of fish he buys. He wants to make serious upgrades to his facility, but he’s on a month-to-month lease with the port. His investors won’t invest in the facility with a month-to-month lease.
“He could create 20 jobs, but he needs a long-term lease. He’s been in the port for 32 years. He wants to grow his business and create jobs. The port will either encourage him or deny him the opportunity.”
Sanok said the study reveals what the marine trades have known all along.
“Looking at the study and the numbers, this is the perfect confirmation of what people inside the marine trades ecosystem know, ” he said. “It’s gigantic, independent and extremely valuable.
“When I read this study, it gave me a sense of pride. We’ve created this wonderful community, a number of quality jobs and tax revenue. The numbers are staggering. It makes me profoundly grateful to those who supported a study typically a port administration would do. The port is busy and we felt it would be a positive contribution.
“The numbers create hope and confidence in the future.”
For more information, see www.ptmta.org.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or [email protected]