Seattle Southside’s many assets make it an especially competitive and attractive place for conducting business in today's global economy. For international trade, close proximity to world-class seaports and an international airport are vital to the many businesses in Seattle Southside—and the region—that are dependent on moving products efficiently overseas.
The Ports of Seattle and Tacoma constitute the third largest container complex in the United States, and more than $40 billion worth of goods travel through these ports every year. Closer to Asia than any other major U.S. seaports, the Ports of the Pacific Northwest are a premier gateway for products, cruise passengers, and tourists moving to and from North America.
About 70 percent of the Port of Seattle’s containerized cargo originates in or is destined for regions of the country outside the Pacific Northwest, making the Central Puget Sound region a trade gateway of national and international significance.
Two major U.S. railroads are within two miles of container terminals, and two major interstate highways are within minutes of all terminals, providing efficient truck and rail access for inland destinations including Chicago, New York and Boston.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport ranks among the top 20 air cargo airports in the country. Air cargo at Sea-Tac Airport in 2006 totaled 341,952 metric tons with international freight making up nearly a quarter of the volume. Given the importance of international commerce to regional businesses, many of the region's top distribution and logistics companies are located in Seattle Southside.
Highline Community College provides professionals in the logistics industry with access to first-rate technical programs in International Business and Trade. Highline offers a unique combination of business studies, trade logistics, and travel/tourism courses, creating a broad collaboration for curriculum development, service delivery, and technical resources.
Highline Community College is also a designated Center of Excellence in International Trade, Transportation, and Logistics by the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges. Centers are flagship institutions that build and sustain Washington's competitive advantage through statewide leadership. Each Center focuses on a targeted industry that drives the state’s economy. Highline serves as a leader in national organizations that promote international collaborations, and Highline's current network of partners, resources, and key communicators provide substantial support to the region and the state's international trade and logistics efforts.
Located on Commencement Bay—a natural, deep-water harbor in Southern Puget Sound—the Port of Tacoma has 2,400 acres (972 hectares) that are used for shipping terminal activity and warehouse, distributing, and manufacturing.