Port of Olympia Makes Progress on Community Vision

Port of Olympia
by Doug Mah, Doug Mah & Associates and Thurston Chamber Public Policy Director

On April 16, 2021, the Chamber’s Business and Economic Development Committee received a presentation from Sam Gibboney, Executive Director for the Port of Olympia, where she provided a status report on Vision 2050.

Vision 2050 results from a 14-month community engagement process to identify community aspirations for the Port to achieve.  

The vision contains three primary focus areas: Port Terminal, Waterfront and Community Assets; Business Development, Infrastructure and Real Estate; and Sustainability, Administration, Communications and Engagement.  

The Focus areas reflect major community input threads, and within the three focus areas, the community Task Force identified ten goals and proposed 59 specific actions.

The Port reports it has completed or has action in progress for 38 out of the 59 actions. This is a tremendous achievement for the Port of Olympia in a short, COVID-19 – constrained amount of time.   

The Thurston Chamber is particularly supportive of five specific actions currently in progress. These actions have broad potential to support and sustain economic development across the region. These include:  

  • Adding amenities and access to water along the (Port terminal) peninsula
  • Enhancing the connection between Swantown (marina) and the core downtown (Olympia) area
  • Growing manufacturing, logistics, avionics, real estate, tourism, agriculture, food processing and storage.
  • Evaluating and pursuing green-energy production alternatives
  • Exploring options for making the airport an aeronautical research and manufacturing hub

A couple of action items have not started that the Thurston Chamber has an interest in. We hope that the Port and Port Commission will begin working on the following Vision 2050 actions:

  • Pursue value-added manufacturing opportunities at the Port terminal
  • Develop a community recreation, open-space and placemaking strategy
  • Explore the viability of expanding to five Port Commissioners

The Thurston Chamber of Commerce looks forward to future updates and progress reports from the Port of Olympia. As stated in the Vision 2050 document, “Successful visioning projects require follow-through,” and the Chamber is encouraged by the initial effort. And more follow-through is required from Port commissioners, staff and partners.

“Expand Port partnerships with other community organizations” is the one action item that must be addressed for the Port to successfully realize the community’s aspirations. The Thurston Chamber of Commerce will continue to work and partner with the Port of Olympia as we have done for decades. We encourage our members to do the same. After all, “growing a prosperous economy and vibrant community by connecting people, ideas and resources” is what the Chamber does.

A copy of the Port Vision 2050 Action Plan can be found at: https://portolympia.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Port-Vision-2050-Action-Plan-Resolution-1.pdf

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