Okay, it’s quiz time! This is a tough one, but give it a try for the Ol’ Boat Guy. Why do companies who utilize boats and ships, who build boats and ships, who sell and repair boats and ships, decide to put their businesses next to the water? OK… go!
Stupid question, eh? You’re right. It is a stupid question. On the other hand, if you look at development in our area, you’d think that the people who make decisions about waterfront property couldn’t answer the above question.
A working waterfront is critical to our economy in the Northwest. A working waterfront provides valuable jobs that depend on easy access to the water. A working waterfront is why Seattle is here in the first place! It was established and grew here because Seattle has a world class, natural harbor, advantageously located to critical places around the globe.
Some businesses can be located almost anywhere. Sports stadiums, for example. Do they depend on access to the water? No! But it seems that’s where we think they have to go. Is it nice to live on the water? Sure it is, if you’re rich enough. But, do people living in a condo produce or manufacture things that the world needs? Do they employ thousands of people? Do they move products all over the globe? No!
Some businesses simply need to be near the water. Take a company like Vigor, for example. They build ships. They build our state ferries. They are somewhat new to our community, but they employ highly skilled people and boost our economy. They’ve even opened a school, right here on our waterfront, to teach people the skills they need to get a high-paying job the day they graduate. These are smart people at Vigor. They hire the best graduates and put them to work immediately. Talk about making an investment in our community!
Sitting in a cubical, with a computer all day is great, but it isn’t for everyone. Some folks want to build and make things. Some want to be on the water, navigating a sophisticated vessel. Some want to harvest food from the sea to feed a hungry world or bring in goods we need daily. Seattle has always been the place for these people and it needs to stay that way for the benefit of us all.
The sea and ships are a huge part of our history and our legacy. The companies that deal with ships, boats and the sea have to be stewards of this valuable resource and we need to insure that they are. But, they need access to the water! It’s more than economics, it’s our history and our culture. Let’s protect the working waterfront and keep Seattle a real seaport town, not a “Disneyland” facade of one.