Even if the embryonic alliance between the ports of Seattle and Tacoma never develops to become full-grown business, at least one Tacoma business will have benefited from the planned operational and marketing combination.
Tacoma’s Hotel Murano is to be the site Thursday and Friday of the Port of Seattle Commission’s periodic planning retreat. The five-member commission plans to meet at the downtown Tacoma hotel to discuss its long-term plan to bolster its business both at its seaport and at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
The Seattle Port Commission usually meets for retreats at venues nearer to home. In the last year, the commission has retreated to the Suquamish Clearwater Resort, the Cedarbrook Lodge, the Salish Lodge and Islandwood on Bainbridge Island for its planning sessions.
The full Seattle commission in recent months has met with the Port of Tacoma Commission at the Tacoma port’s meeting chambers at the Fabulich Center, but has not held its own meetings in Pierce County.
Port of Tacoma spokeswoman Tara Mattina said there are no present plans for the two commissions to meet together when the Seattle port governing body meets in Tacoma, but the Tacoma commission may seek a joint meeting with their Seattle counterparts during a portion of their stay in town.
The formerly rival ports agreed last spring to discuss formation of an alliance to attract more shipping business to Puget Sound. The two ports this fall announced plans to share operations and marketing of the two ports’ freight terminals under a joint arrangement. The details of that alliance are now being worked out by executives of both ports with the target of putting the alliance into operation next summer.
The two ports agreed to the combination because the region faces stern challenges from Canada, Southern California and an enlarged Panama Canal in attracting container shipping activity.
An Olympia-based open meetings advocate has sued both ports, alleging that the two illegally met together in private to discuss forming the alliance. The two ports claim those meetings were exempt from the state’s Open Meetings Act because they were held under the auspices of the Federal Maritime Commission. The FMC had granted the two ports anti-trust immunity to discuss combining their operations.