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August 5, 2015 12:30 PM, EDT

Ports of Seattle, Tacoma Vote to Launch Alliance

Northwest Seaport Alliance

The ports of Seattle and Tacoma voted Aug. 4 to launch a partnership known as the Northwest Seaport Alliance to unify cargo terminal investment and operation.

The alliance, originally announced October 2014, is designed to attract more cargo to the Washington state ports and combine planning and marketing resources.

“We have moved from fierce competitors to bold collaborators to form a new business model for the greater good of our region,” Don Johnson, Port of Tacoma commission president, said in a statement.

“We recognize how critical the maritime industry is to our state’s economy, and we are proud and excited to strengthen it even more,” Johnson said.

The ports will remain separate organizations and retain ownership of their assets, but a port development authority was formed to manage container, breakbulk auto and some bulk terminals in Seattle and Tacoma, according to the alliance.

The agency that oversees the shipping industry, the Federal Maritime Commission, voted late July to approve the partnership.

“I would like to express my support for The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which brings together neighboring ports to coordinate their import and export functions that provide a foundation for our nation’s foreign ocean-borne trade,” Mario Cordero, FMC chairman, previously said in a statement.

“This alliance would become the third-largest trade gateway in North America, behind the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the Port of New York and New Jersey. The Pacific Northwest is a key region for inbound and outbound United States cargo, moving cargo not only for the regional trade, but also cargo headed to destinations throughout the entire U.S. Midwest, and this Alliance will help the region remain competitive into the future,” Cordero said.

The alliance voted to hire current Port of Tacoma CEO John Wolfe to head the partnership through a transition period of up to five years.

“Creating the Northwest Seaport Alliance, the third-largest cargo gateway in North America, is truly historic and signals a new era of cooperation between our ports,” Courtney Gregoire, Port of Seattle commission co-president, said in a statement.