Port of Port Angeles looks to diversify for future

Maritime center and foreign trade zone to expand port offerings

PORT ANGELES — The Port of Port Angeles is looking at new ways to diversify the local economy, such as setting up a Foreign Trade Zone, while still providing support to its legacy industries of forest and maritime products, according to interim Executive Director Paul Jarkiewicz.

Speaking to a meeting of the Port Angeles Nor’Wester Rotary at Joshua’s Restaurant on Friday, Jarkiewicz said the port is based in Port Angeles but has a mission to support all of Clallam County.

“We try to take into consideration all the industries throughout the entire county and how we can best support those industries and drive the economy forward,” Jarkiewicz said. “That’s what we do, we enable industry.”

The port operates both its waterfront properties west of downtown Port Angeles — including the Port Angeles Boat Haven, a log yard and buildings rented by maritime businesses — and William R. Fairchild International Airport, which has an industrial area home to several manufacturing businesses.

The local timber industry — which uses the port to move its product in and out of the county — accounts for 878 direct jobs in Clallam County, Jarkiewicz said, with another 659 indirect jobs and 376 induced jobs, or jobs made possible by spending by employees.

But the timber industry is only of a portion of what it once was, Jarkiewicz said, and its numbers have been declining for years.

“If we don’t go ahead and start reanimating how we’re doing things with wood products then we will go ahead and continue to diminish,” Jarkiewicz said.

“We’re looking at innovative ways to diversify, and we have a little bit of a runway on how to do that, it’s going to take a lot of work from all of us.”

One of the projects the port is pursuing is the construction of a Maritime Trades Center which will focus on serving small to medium-sized vessels under 300 feet. That includes private yachts, commercial fishing vessels and smaller military craft.

The center will be located on Marine Drive east of Platypus Marine Inc. and Westport Yachts and is scheduled to be ready at the end of 2025 or early 2026.

Groundbreaking is set for the third quarter of 2024 and will take up to a year and a half to install and the needed infrastructure.

“We have a lot of our partners and constituents that are now renting from us down on the waterfront that are looking at expanding into this area,” Jarkiewicz said.

“I think it gives us a good opportunity to bring other industries that are not native to Port Angeles.”

Foreign Trade Zone

The port also is pursuing a special designation with the U.S. Department of Commerce known as a Foreign Trade Zone which provides special tax treatment for businesses importing and exporting goods.

“If you’re importing goods you can put it in a foreign trade zone, and then only pay the taxation on it after you remove it,” Jarkiewicz said.

“You can also, if you’re bringing raw materials, it will allow you to aggregate those raw materials into a complete product before you’re actually taxed on the end product.”

Once a zone is granted, individual businesses can choose whether or not to designate certain areas of their business —even individual buildings within the zone— as foreign trade zones. That comes with a stringent reporting regime, Jarkiewicz said, but allows businesses to only pay taxes on finished products.

Several foreign trade zones already exist in Washington, including the large ports of Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia, but smaller communities such as the ports of Everett, Vancouver and Grays Harbor also have their own.

Jarkiewicz said the zone would be particularly beneficial for manufacturing businesses such as aluminum boat builder Stabicraft; aerospace company Angeles Composite Technologies, Inc. and composites manufacturer Composite Recycling Technology Center, all of which are located in the industrial zones at the airport.

Jarkiewicz said the port submitted its application in March and the U.S. Department of Commerce advises a six- to nine-month timeline for approval, meaning September is the earliest an answer may be expected.


Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at peter.segall@peninsuladailynews.com.

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