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April 23, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Region needs a third economic driver

Public-transportation vehicles?

The Northwest Transportation Cluster Initiative (NTCI) encourages Jon Talton’s “3rd economic driver” be fulfilled in the local manufacturer of public-transportation vehicles. [“Region ought to add 3rd economic driver,” Business, April 22.]

NTCI has proposed King County Metro leverage its tens of millions of annual Federal Transportation Administration dollars by expanding its use of local public-transportation suppliers. It’s a win-win, wining local family-wage manufacturing jobs and winning an expansion of the tax-base funding for local public transportation.

A de facto transportation cluster is forming with Seattle’s new First Hill streetcars from local supplier Pacifica Marine. Also, Portland’s streetcar is being built by its local company, Iron Works, which uses over 70 percent Northwest suppliers. Both organizations have plans to supply streetcars to other cities.

King County uses over 100 Washington state suppliers to support Metro’s transit fleet. Public transportation vehicle manufacturers have, are, and will be in the future paid with Metro’s FTA hundreds of million of dollars, enough to sustain and possibly expand the Aerospace/Transportation Cluster.

The NTCI encourages Talton to look again at the aerospace cluster, and acknowledge the potential for, if not a full new cluster, at least a new “half” cluster: the NW Aerospace/Transportation cluster.

— Chuck Lare, president of Lare & Associates LLC, Seattle

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