More than 80 percent of Thurston County residents feel that the Port of Olympia has a positive impact on the county.
That’s one of the key findings of a recent poll conducted by Elway Research, Inc. on behalf of Thurston County Chamber and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 47.
“We know that the Port is a key economic driver in our community, but we didn’t know how well that fact was recognized by the general public,” says David Schaffert, President and CEO of the Thurston County Chamber. “What we discovered from our initial research is that among people who know some things about the Port, it is viewed very positively and is considered an asset in our community.”
While the research confirms that the public recognizes the Port as an economic development leader in the community, it also indicated that many people believe that the Port doesn’t really impact them personally.
“We think it’s important to people understand that they benefit from the Port even if they don’t work in the maritime industry,” Schaffert adds. “When someone buys green beans at the Farmers Market, or walks along Percival Landing, or takes their children to the Hands on Children’s Museum, those are all activities that depend on the Port of Olympia.”
The Chamber and the ILWU Local 47 hope that sharing information gleaned from this initial research will launch a community-wide conversation about the Port’s role as an important contributor to the economic, environmental and cultural health of Thurston County.
Other key findings from Elway Research, Inc:
- The Port’s economic impact should “carry the most weight” when making decisions about its future: Given a choice of 4 considerations, nearly half (46%) said economic impact should be considered over the Port’s “impact on the environment” (27%), return on taxpayer investment (18%) or “contributions to local culture and diversity” (4%).
- 82% said the Port strengthens the county’s global ties; 79% agreed that the jobs it supports are a significant contribution to the county economy; 71% disagreed with the assertion that Olympia no longer needs a marine cargo terminal; respondents were evenly divided over whether the Port has an impact on them personally: 49% said it does and 48% said it does not.
- 83% said the Port has a positive impact on culture and diversity of the county; 71% said the Port’s clean-up efforts have a positive impact on the environment; 70% said Port properties have a potentially positive impact on Downtown revitalization.
- 9 in 10 respondents could cite a benefit of having the Port here. Only 5 in 10 could think of a single drawback.
There was strong support for log exports. 79% of respondents agreed that log exports support important jobs in the region
Robert Rose, secretary-treasurer of ILWU Local 47, concludes, “The dominant finding of this survey is that there is broad support for the Port and its many activities. The more people know about the range of Port activates, the more they value it.”