As America emerges from the recession, job creation is at a premium. International trade presents perhaps the greatest potential for economic growth, particularly in Washington State, where 40% of all jobs are linked to trade.
Because Asian markets are growing so strongly, they present a prime opportunity for Northwest exporters, but the United States has limited capacity to export dry bulk goods from the West Coast competitively. The Gateway Pacific Terminal, and its link to the BNSF rail system, will help fill that void, providing farmers and resource managers in the Northwest and across the upper Midwest with an efficient new export portal.
The economic situation in Northwest Washington is particularly acute. Whatcom County continues to lose ground to the rest of Washington State. Personal income and hourly wage are falling farther behind the state averages. Unemployment is high, and in particular, the county is losing its industrial jobs, as 1,400 jobs have vanished since 2007, when the Georgia-Pacific mill – the last large factory in Bellingham – closed after 150 years. That mill was part of an industrial complex that once employed 1,200 people.
The Gateway Pacific Terminal will help address these challenges. Gateway will provide new export opportunities across the nation, provide much-needed family wage jobs and millions of dollars in new tax revenues for vital local and state services, and help Northwest Washington rebuild a strong economic foundation.