Port of Tacoma has ambitious goals to reach by 2022. These include doubling container cargo to 3 million 20-foot equivalent units and doubling bulk cargo to 12 million metric tons, doing environmental cleanup on 200 acres of land and reducing diesel emissions by 85 percent. These are some of the goals spelled out in the port’s strategic plan for the next 10 years. It has four main focus areas – strategic investments, new business opportunities, customer care and community pride. Port CEO John Wolfe gave a presentation on the topic during the May 8 meeting of Tacoma City Council’s Economic Development Committee.
Wolfe said that between 50 percent and 70 percent of cargo going through the Tideflats heads inland. Much of this is on trains heading to the Midwest. As cargo ships have gotten larger, the trains that haul away the products they carry have to become longer. Wolfe discussed efforts to improve rail capacity to accommodate trains that could be as long as a mile and a half.
He noted the recent announcement of the shipping line coalition known as the Grand Alliance to begin calling on Tacoma. The coalition wanted a port that offered cost savings and efficiency.
“Those are the factors that are driving service,” he said. “We are designing the future of rail on the Tideflats.”
The second category calls for greater exporting capacity, especially bulk material. This includes agricultural products and could include crude oil coming out of new fields in the Dakotas. Wolfe said the former Kaiser smelter site has been identified as ideal for a future $100 million bulk cargo terminal. No business deal has been reached yet, “but we are working real hard at that.”
The port wants to shift away from too much reliance on cargo containers. Wolfe said planning for more bulk cargo is an example of the port’s efforts to diversify its portfolio.
A competitive advantage Tacoma has over other West Coast ports is ample room to expand. That puts the port in “a sweet spot,” he observed. A key factor is to get the word out to the international market that Tacoma is diversified.
The third focus area is about maintaining and improving relationships with customers. “We want to be recognized as best in class.”
The fourth encompasses topics ranging from environmental stewardship to transportation improvements. It also ties into building partnerships with other entities. Wolfe acknowledged the support Mayor Marilyn Strickland offered in landing the Grand Alliance. When representatives of the shipping lines were in town to discuss the business deal, the mayor wrote a letter encouraging them to select the Port of Tacoma. He said this was placed in their hotel rooms, along with a tin of Almond Roca.
The port also has a new logo, designed by the California consulting firm brandStrata. Councilmember Lauren Walker said she is impressed by it.
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