Kinder Morgan Bulk Terminals Inc.: Marine Customer of the Year Award.
Brewcraft USA: Tenant of the Year Award.
Cadet Manufacturing: Environmental Stewardship Award.
Food Express Inc.: Facilities Improvement Award.
There’s a chance your job exists because of Washington state’s strong links to international trade — built on road, river and rail connections. And if you think moving goods and services regionally and around the world just adds to the traffic jam during your morning commute, think again.
Roughly 40 percent of all jobs in Washington state are “tied to trade,” said Eric Schinfeld, president of the Washington Council on International Trade. Unfortunately, said Aaron Hegeman, director of public and private partnerships for BNSF Railway, “a lot of people see transportation” — which brackets regional and global trade — “as a burden or cost.”
In reality, Hegeman added, the United States’ supply chain is reliable and cheap compared to Europe and China, and it remains one of the country’s greatest economic advantages. But that advantage may slip away, Hegeman and Schinfeld said, if the nation fails to further invest in public infrastructure and neglects to produce a national freight-mobility plan.
The two men were among several state and local business and government leaders who spoke Thursday as part of the Port of Vancouver’s annual “Port Report” breakfast, attended by more than 300 people at the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay. The theme of the event — which featured panelists Schinfeld, Hegeman and Washington State University Vancouver Chancellor Mel Netzhammer — centered on why transportation, academic and other connections matter in generating economic growth.
However, not everyone was feeling connected to those gains. Before and during the event, union dockworkers sought to bring attention to their contract dispute with United Grain Corp., which operates a grain-export terminal at the Port of Vancouver.