One of the things that I most appreciate about Pacific Marine Expo is the gathering of the tribe, so to speak. It’s the annual rendezvous here in Seattle of those who make their living — directly and indirectly — from building boats and operating commercial vessels of all kinds. It’s doing business and rekindling relationships.
Last year and again this year, PME events have included a Maritime Economic Forecast Breakfast featuring speakers from both government and private enterprise. Nearly 300 guests showed up early this morning to hear speakers address the economic impact of the maritime sector in Seattle, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. This year, the results of a recent economic impact study of Washington’s marine sector were revealed and discussed (Washington State Maritime Cluster Economic Impact Study).
And the news is good. Lots of numbers were tossed around, but as one speaker put it, “The maritime industry here is the backbone of the middle class.”
The future also looks good. All the PowerPoint bar charts showed upward trends in both jobs and revenue. Washington state’s connection to Alaska has always been strong, but the health of Alaska’s sustainable fisheries combined with the anticipated growth of Arctic exploration and development means ongoing and growing needs for boats, mariners and all the industries that support them.
The show floor here at Pacific Marine Expo reflects this as well. A few years ago, 250 companies occupied about 45,000 square feet of exhibit space. This year, we have more than 400 companies spread out over 70,000 square feet at the CenturyLink Field Event Center.
So it looks like the maritime industry has a lot to be thankful for as we all go our separate ways after PME ends tomorrow afternoon and head back home for the next week’s holiday.