The Port of Bremerton and numerous other small ports throughout the Pacific Northwest were the focus of a maritime infrastructure study conducted by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO study and report described funding and the nature of non-freight activities at public ports. It also looked at the extent to which federal discretionary grant programs have provided funds to public ports for non-freight and freight projects and stakeholders’ views on this federal assistance. The report was released to congressional committees.
The Port of Bremerton is a significant economic driver for the community and the Port’s marinas are vital contributors to the local economy, bringing investment dollars and jobs to the area. Receiving grant contributions for major projects like a breakwater replacement is critical to the funding process.
The results of the study and report highlight the non-freight activities of smaller ports nationwide and the value they provide regarding recreation, tourism, commercial fishing, public transit, economic development, environmental improvements, and overall community benefits. As most studies and national funding have historically been focused on the freight and cargo operations of larger ports throughout the nation, this report identifies the non-freight activities provided by smaller and non-freight ports that remain critical to the national and local economies.
Overall, the cost of large, freight-only facilities means the opportunity for success for smaller ports to pursue or compete for national funding is limited, and barriers to entry are high. Non-freight activity at ports like the Port of Bremerton creates jobs and economic opportunity in smaller communities with greater need and less opportunity than the urban freight centers.
The Port of Bremerton has been seeking funding partnerships with the federal government for a breakwater replacement at the Port Orchard Marina, and reports like this, when provided to congressional committees, are hoped to be of assistance for those non-freight infrastructure projects.
The full report from the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) may be found at: https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-22-104630