As promised, this post will mostly recount the trip I made to Portland and Seattle last week!
Monday- First thing I did on Monday was secure and rental car and hotel for my trip. I decided to stay in Portland for 3 nights (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) just in case some of the contacts I hadn’t heard back from got in touch with me and I needed to schedule anything else. After picking up the car at lunch time I made a few more calls and sent out some confirmation e-mails then headed to the apartment to pack. I chose mostly business casual clothes, keeping in mind potential job opportunities. After getting an audio book, I loaded up the car and headed out around 5 (just in time to beat Portland traffic). I stayed at the Shilo Inn by the airport, as my first interview was AT the airport! Airports are my favorite places onearth because of the endless possibilities– they’re like a gateway to everywhere– needless to say I was excited to get the behind the scenes.
Tuesday- My meeting with two authorities at the Port of Portland was at 9am, so I made sure to show upearly (maybe a little too early) partly to calm my nerves and partly so if I got lost I’d have time to get found. I got to tour the Port’s newly built office facility, which is beautiful, and then drove around the entire airport checking out the different cargo facilities. I got the impression that while PDX isn’t the biggest airport, it has a lot of things going for it. There is a lot of enthusiasm for growth projects at the airport and the expansion of the seafood export business is definitely one of them. After the tour I was able to conduct an interview and get their
thoughts on the direction of the industry and what they thought the Port’s biggest strengths and weaknesses were. It gave me the impression that there is a lot of teamwork and collaboration that goes into attracting new carriers, hearing from the community, and acting upon those needs. My second interview was downtown with the Director of the Portland U.S. Export Assistance Center. This was probably my toughest interview, as he was presenting a less hopeful more realistic approach to the issue of shipping seafood. He pointed out that Oregon’s issue is with critical mass. There isn’t enough supply coming from one source to reduce costs, pointing to an economies of scale situation. In Washington, there are bigger producers and the smaller ones go through a freight forwarder and can ship out of SeaTac (Seattle’s airport). He was definitely a lot more intense than other people I spoke with, but I appreciated his view as someone who doesn’t necessarily have a personal stake in the issue. I realized that up until then I had been speaking with people who have a pretty biased opinion about transporting seafood and his was probably the first objective opinion I had received, aside from my own (which is probably a little biased at this point). My third interview was at a coffee shop in NE Portland with a NOAA inspection manager. This was a very casual interview, but I was glad to hear from someone at NOAA about the different issues producers have brought up about the inspection procedure. Even he had a hard time explaining the high cost of inspection and thought the idea of creating some sort of shellfish coalition sounded like it could help reduce those costs. Overall, it was a LONG day of interview, but I felt I had received a lot of information to make my document a lot more well-informed and researched. Also, Diego’s days off were on Wednesday and Thursday, so he was able to join me Tuesday night for the rest of my trip!
Wednesday- Early Wednesday morning, we saddled up and drove to Seattle. Originally I was set to meet with one freight forwarder at Express NW, but that morning I received an e-mail from someone I had contacted at FedEx Cargo saying that he could meet as well. Once we got to Seattle I gave him a call and hoped to meet before my meeting at Express NW, but as time got close and he didn’t call me back, I wasn’t sure. Finally, he gave me a call and had spoken with someone at Express NW saying that we could have our meeting there. That was really convenient and I was actually able to interview both men at the same time.
That created a good conversation with a lot of feedback. In speaking with them, my hope was to see how Washington is involved with Oregon’s seafood industry, but also to get their opinion on why Oregon isn’t doing as much in terms of volume. Again, it came down to 2 major factors — lack of direct flights and lack of volume. When I brought up the idea of creating some sort of shellfish marketing coalition to pool resources and reduce costs, both seemed receptive to the idea. Another thought that came up in a few past interviews that I brought up here was the idea of capitalizing in products that are abundant along the coast, but not marketable in the U.S. (for example: sea cucumbers, gooey ducks, etc.). It was good to get the perspective of other people who have no direct affiliation with Oregon’s seafood transporttion issue, but are well-versed in the industry. After the interviews, Diego and I went down to Pike’s Place Market and grabbed some late lunch, some peaches, and some ice cream! I tried honey lavender, which was delicious. Seattle is a really cool town and I wish we could have spent more time there.
Thursday- Thursday was left open, hoping to hear back from one more Portland contact. While I didn’t get in touch with him, Diego and I were able to do some personal maintenance in the city before heading back to Newport. My hair needed a trim pretty desperately and Diego’s mullet was out of hand, so we headed to a local barber shop and got some pretty swanky cuts! After lunch and a quick stop at the Goodwill, we drove back to Newport and finished the first half of my book on tape.
Overall, it was a great trip and now I have all the information I need to finish my publication. I know everyone’s said it, but I can’t believe the program is almost over. I was about to say summer, but I suppose that since I’ve graduated summer is kind of a loaded word. If I don’t get a job, then I could live in an endless summer OR maybe summer really is just a season now, not a time for recharging your batteries before putting on your backpack and heading back to school…maybe I’m getting a little too introspective. Anyways, I’m nervous about putting my work down on paper, but I hope that once I’m done assembling it, it makes sense and is helpful to those who use it.
This weekend was fun and relaxing, I picked berries with Margaret, watched a lot of movies, exercised (Oregon has inspired me to get fit!), and cooked a lot of blueberry treats (none that I’m overly proud of…the muffins were a little dense!). This week marks the beginning of my outline and writing process, which I can barely get started on. I feel a little overwhelmed, but I know I’ll get it done!
Also, I’m excited for Zumba with Margaret tonight..your first class at the Newport Rec. Center is free! Gotta take advantage of all the fun stuff in Newport before we head out of here AND if you’re in Corvallis on Wednesday night you should come see Diego play a show at Bombs Away!