As a membership organization, we invite all our members running for elected office each year to submit a statement to their fellow members. GSBA is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates, and this statement should not be construed as an endorsement by GSBA, its Board, or its staff.
Ryan Calkins, running for Seattle Port Commission
In my first term on the Seattle Port Commission, I’m proud to have led with the priorities and values that align and expand the Port’s mission as one of our region’s key economic development drivers. Through inclusion, opportunity, and bold innovation, we’ve created jobs, supported local businesses and workers, as well as made significant strides in the battle against climate change.
The Port of Seattle has a huge impact on Seattle's economy, including nearly $1 billion dollars in annual revenue, a vibrant airport, healthy seaport, and booming tourism industry. With this economic influence, the Port has the power to support communities and essential workers most impacted by the pandemic and be a key driver of small business development in the Greater Seattle area. We need leaders committed to those goals.
Through ongoing large-scale construction projects, hundreds of retail opportunities, and resources to support the training of the next generation of business leaders, the Port of Seattle can and must work to ensure that the Seattle community is employed and moving forward coming out of the pandemic.
Additionally, I’m working so many of these new and high-paying jobs – in maritime, aviation, clean energy, and more – are available and marketed toward those who have been left out in the past, especially communities of color, LGBTQ+ communities, and low-income communities. To meet those goals, I have worked tirelessly to launch and promote our region’s new Maritime High School, connecting students to new opportunities in Port-aligned industries.
As someone who works directly with small businesses now, I understand the challenges facing new entrepreneurs and difficulty in securing work with large government agencies. That is why I’ll continue to work to expand the Port’s efforts to make sure contracts are awarded to local small businesses, not just large, out-of-state conglomerates.
Beyond just economic development, the Port of Seattle is also in a unique position to help tackle climate change. Since I was elected, I have acted on the belief that Ports can do more to improve sustainability, serving on the Port’s Energy and Sustainability Committee and leading efforts to make the Port of Seattle the nation’s most environmentally sustainable port.
Our investment in sustainable aviation fuels at SEA and for complete decarbonization of the Seattle central waterfront are truly innovative. We have also become leading advocates for important ideas like the statewide Low Carbon Fuel Standard. We must continue this nation-leading work.
As the Greater Seattle area continues to grow, the importance and relevance of our Port will continue to expand. During this coming election cycle, we have the opportunity to elect leaders with the integrity and experience to hold the Ports true to the interests of Seattle citizens. I hope to earn your vote.
Ryan Calkins is a Seattle Port Commissioner, GSBA member, and consultant and coach at Ventures, a charitable organization that supports low-income entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses in the Puget Sound area. Learn more at www.ryanforport.com.