Industrial and Maritime Strategy Council Delivers Comprehensive Recommendations to Support Jobs and Innovation

Stakeholders deliver 11 strategies to renew commitment to Seattle as a maritime and manufacturing city, equitable access to living-wage jobs, innovative small businesses, and environmental justice in neighborhoods near industrial areas. 

Office of Planning and Community Development to begin the environmental review process to study the creation of limited industrial innovation zones and areas to allow workers to live nearby 

Seattle (June 30, 2021) – After careful deliberations, the City of Seattle’s Industrial and Maritime Strategy Council has developed 11 strategies to support the next generation of industrial and maritime jobs. The group’s recommendations aim to grow thousands of living-wage jobs, while providing equitable access to those opportunities for the BIPOC community and women. The strategies emphasize the need to provide stronger land-use protections for core industrial and maritime areas, while encouraging areas for modern, innovative high-density industrial development in walkable areas near light rail stations. The proposals also seek to create improved transitions between industrial areas and residential or mixed-use areas with affordable opportunities for small-scale light-industrial businesses, makers, and creative arts and provide new flexibility for industry-supportive housing to allow workers and entrepreneurs to live near their place of work.  

The Office of Planning and Community Development will author an EIS to study land use changes to: strengthen the future of maritime, manufacturing and industrial areas; encourage areas of high-density industrial development near transit; and create vibrant, healthy transitions from industrial areas with affordable, small spaces for local manufacturing and creative arts, including considering new flexibility for housing for workers, and lodging in certain overlays of industrial areas. In addition, the EIS will study land use changes in areas of Georgetown and South Park to match neighborhoods goals and allowing lodging near the stadiums.  

The Strategy Council highlighted the importance of providing high-quality transit to access jobs; committing to environmental justice for neighborhoods most impacted by hazardous industrial pollution; and the need for ongoing community engagement from a diverse and comprehensive set of community voices and industry stakeholders.  

“Seattle can be a city of the future with a dynamic workforce and economy with thriving manufacturing, innovation across industries and arts, and strong maritime workforce. These recommendations help ensure that Seattle remains a leader in the maritime and industrial sectors. The strength of their consensus is a result of months of critical community engagement with a wide range of stakeholders,” said Mayor Durkan. “While I understand concerns with residential housing in industrial land, we can plan for high-density industrial development near transit while also creating more housing and lodging in transitional areas. On that premise, the Office of Planning and Community Development will be moving forward on the environmental review process to further our shared goals. In culmination, this work will lay the foundation, setting our city on a visionary path towards future development and expansion while taking another step towards building a more equitable city of opportunity where no matter what neighborhood you are from, everyone can thrive.”  

In November 2019, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan gathered more than 60 stakeholders, comprised of representatives from traditional and emerging industrial and maritime businesses, labor, developers, workforce development professionals, and community representatives from neighborhoods near industrial areas, to consider the future of Seattle’s Manufacturing Industrial Centers. Mayor Durkan laid out several guiding principles for the group’s work:  

  • Use the power of local workers and companies to chart a blueprint for the future using the principles of restorative economics to support the cultural, economic, and political power of communities most impacted by economic and racial inequities. 
  • Strengthen and grow Seattle’s industrial and maritime sectors so communities that have been excluded from the prosperity of our region can benefit from our future growth. 
  • Promote equitable access to high-quality, family-wage jobs and entrepreneurship for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color through an inclusive industrial economy and ladders of economic opportunity. 
  • Improve the movement of people and goods to and within industrial zones and increases safety for all travel modes. 
  • Align Seattle’s industrial and maritime strategy with key climate and environmental protection goals. 
  • Develop a proactive land use policy agenda that harnesses growth and economic opportunities to ensure innovation and industrial jobs are a robust part of our future economy that is inclusive of emerging industries and supportive of diverse entrepreneurship. 
  • Planning for the next generation of these lands as a key pillar for the Seattle of the future. 

In response, the group worked in smaller groups and as a full body to develop the following 11 strategies. The final proposal achieved a wide consensus with 85 percent approval among the Citywide stakeholder group. Detail on the 11 strategies and the list of citywide and neighborhood stakeholders who contributed to effort, is available in the group’s report

Maritime and manufacturing activities have long benefitted Seattle by contributing to the city’s identity, supporting living-wage jobs, and promoting economic diversity. Seattle contains approximately 4,000 acres of industrial lands (11% of the city’s area) that generate nearly 100,000 critical living-wage jobs, of which two-thirds are accessible without a traditional four-year degree. Seattle’s maritime industrial economy is supported by the Port of Seattle’s cargo terminals and connecting infrastructure; manufacturing facilities in the Duwamish Valley, Elliott Bay, Lake Union, and the ship canal; and the nation’s largest fishing fleet, which is sewn into the fabric of Seattle culture. 

“The citywide and neighborhood groups wrestled with persistent challenges around business viability, worker training and availability, safety, infrastructure and conflicts between neighboring uses,” said Sally Clark, University of Washington, a co-chair of the Council. “Not everyone agrees on exactly what the future looks like, but everyone agreed that Seattle has a maritime and industrial future. Thank you to Mayor Durkan for convening this group and keeping us going through a difficult year.” 

“Seattle’s Maritime Industry has provided our community with family-wage jobs for generations. In this rapidly changing economy where far too many people are being left behind, it is essential that we preserve good, union jobs at the Port,” said Nicole Grant, a co-chair who serves Executive Secretary-Treasurer of MLK Labor, which represents more than 150 labor unions in King County. “The recommendations of the Industrial and Maritime Strategy Council lays out a blueprint for preserving careers in the maritime industry that will serve the next generation and help build a more equitable Seattle.” 

“The industrial lands stakeholders started this critical work before our city was engulfed by a global pandemic and a once-in-a-generation racial reckoning and forced us to be even more serious about the future of our industrial lands,” said Brian Surratt, co-chair of the group and Seattle community and economic development leader. “These twin crises demanded each of us to think beyond lines on a City land use and planning map. We had frank conversations with an eye toward future generations ranging from the compatibility of housing near our traditional industrial and maritime centers, how we must invest more in job training, and our glaring need for more equity and inclusion in these industries. The stakeholder’s diverse set of recommendations outline a framework for Seattle to remain a city committed to a prosperous and equitable future focused on maintaining our industrial and maritime clusters and encouraging more investment in these dynamic urban centers.” 

“We are so thankful to the neighborhood stakeholders who engaged with the City in the development of these strategies,” said Andres Mantilla, director of the Department of Neighborhoods. “Having the opportunity to thoughtfully engage with our neighbors in South Park, Georgetown, SODO, Ballard, and Interbay allowed us to ensure that the communities most impacted by Seattle’s industrial and maritime economy have a stake in its future prosperity.” 

Seattle companies emerging from the pandemic are already taking steps to encourage workers to consider new careers in maritime and industrial businesses. For example, Argosy Cruises is partnering with the Seattle Jobs Initiative, Seattle Maritime Academy, a program of the Seattle Colleges and the Office of Economic Development, to open the door to maritime careers to new workers – especially BIPOC workers who have been displaced from previous careers in the hospitality industry due to the global pandemic. Entry-level workers will have access to training and a job that is the first rung on a career ladder in the maritime trades. 

While the Mayor and City Council review the recommendations, successive measures to support these strategies may include amendments to the Comprehensive Plan to codify the group’s vision. As a next step, the Office of Planning and Community Development is beginning the environmental review process to consider the proposed land use changes:  

  • high-density industrial development near transit;  
  • housing and lodging in transitional zones;  
  • legislation to close industrial zoning loopholes; and  
  • formation of the stewardship group that will shepherd the recommendations.  

“Finding consensus within this group of people who often hold opposite opinions is an achievement in and of itself,” said Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6), chair of the Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee. “Adopting changes to our maritime and industrial areas will protect these lands and the family-wage jobs they support for generations to come. I look forward to receiving the legislation to enact these recommendations in my committee so I can move them from policy proposal to code.”  

“Thanks to all the stakeholders, whose commitment to this process ensured our success in reaching broad consensus,” said Rico Quirindongo, interim director of the Office of Planning and Community Development. “As we move forward, we will continue our work with the community to support a bright future for our city anchored by the working waterfront.” 

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