Ferndale residents know better than anyone that the industries at Cherry Point are great neighbors. They have provided excellent jobs and tax revenues while meeting our high expectations for environmental performance. Whenever our state has asked them to step up to a higher standard, they have met it. They participate in and give back to our communities.
We view these industries not only as environmentally conscious neighbors, but as steady providers of jobs and tax revenues for our communities. These employers demonstrate the significant benefits that a strong industrial base, from employing thousands at family-wage jobs to sponsoring Little League teams and donating to local charities and civic projects. We know that industry forms the backbone of prosperous communities.
So when another private company offers to become the fourth and final industry at Cherry Point - Ferndale's last industrial neighbor - I pay close attention. In fact, this idea is not new. Whatcom County has for decades planned for one more marine use of the Cherry Point industrial zone.
Unlike our three existing neighbors, which make products, the Gateway project will be a shipping terminal, designed to move dry bulk commodities between trains and ships. This project not only represents a $665 million private investment in our community, the terminal will also have to be built and operated under the highest environmental standards.
But first, the Gateway Terminal will undergo a rigorous environmental review to ensure the project can protect our environment and the health of our communities. We won't need to speculate. We will be able to mitigate impacts that need it. The fact is, we hold companies to higher standards than ever before, so we have every right to expect that by the time this project is completed, it will be the best bulk commodities marine terminal ever built.
So, if we know our new neighbor will be safe and clean, what else can we expect? Prosperity. Many families throughout the county are unemployed or underemployed, and Gateway will generate more than 4,000 constructions jobs and more than 1,200 permanent jobs. Local schools and other services lack sufficient funding, and Gateway will become the county's second largest taxpayer. The Gateway Terminal will help put families back to work and strengthen the tax base upon which our local schools and public services depend.
We have long benefited from the current industries at Cherry Point and I welcome the process to add the Gateway Terminal as one more neighbor.
Gary Jensen is mayor of Ferndale.