Swift Academy rolls students into a new career
Swift is integral to the region’s intermodal transportation and economy
Heidi Wood, of the Seattle area and a student at Swift Academy, performs a pre-check on her truck at the beginning of class. The exercise is standard practice before getting behind the wheel.
In three weeks of intensive training students at Swift Academy become semi-truck drivers. Among other tasks, they must successfully navigate 18 wheels and a 53-foot trailer down a formidable grade.
“The best training grade anyone could ask for is the Lewiston hill,” said Stephen Bartman, Swift Academy Leader.
“It is a little bit of a challenge, but my instructors are wonderful. Once the initial fright is over, it all comes down to learning.”
Of course, there’s more to becoming a truck driver than just a few weeks of training. First, Bartman, says, “you have to want it” because being a truck driver is difficult and demanding work. Prerequisites to attend the academy include a completed physical through the Department of Transportation and passing the written state test for a CDL driving permit. A comprehensive list of criteria can be found at www.swifttruckingjobs.com. After completing the 3-week training, drivers must log 200-240 hours with a training mentor before they are ready to go it alone.
But, if you can make it through, driving a truck can be a fulfilling career.
“One reason people are attracted to this industry is, in certain ways, they are their own boss,” said Bartman. “The sky is the limit as long as you fall in with regulations. The country is so vast and diverse; there’s beauty everywhere you go.”
There’ll also likely be jobs everywhere you go. Bartman says the nation, as a whole, is short an estimated 300,000 drivers.
“The driver shortage is nationwide, in all aspects of the industry,” he said.
Drivers who go to work for Swift after completing the academy and stay on with Swift for at least 26 months will have the bulk of the cost to attend school repaid to them by the company.
The Swift Academy opened here in the early 90s. A new session starts each week and the academy can accommodate up to 15 students per class.
“The academy and Swift’s Lewiston Terminal are long-term tenants in Northport and an integral part of intermodal transportation here in the valley,” said Port of Lewiston President Mike Thomason. “Swift also plays an important role in the local economy by keeping many jobs here and by bringing students through intermittently who spend money in our local community while they are in school.”
The academy currently employs 11 instructors and the Swift Terminal is home to approximately 30 employees. Also, nearly 300 drivers are based out of the Lewiston terminal, said Bartman.
Mike VanTrease, Swift Terminal Leader/Vice President, said the Northport location provides easy access to Highways 12 and 95.
“Overall Northport provides a great location for our academy and terminal,” said VanTrease. “We have great neighbors. Also, Port commissioners and staff are always willing to work with us when needs arise. Conducting business in Lewiston would be much more difficult without the Port as a supportive landlord.”
Container service resumes at
the Port of Lewiston
After an 8-month hiatus, a Tidewater barge moored alongside the Port of Lewiston dock Nov. 30 and container service resumed.
Container shipments were halted abruptly in April 2015, when on-going labor issues at the Port of Portland resulted in major steamship lines terminating container exports.
Container service returned Monday, Nov. 30, when a Tidewater barge docked at the Port of Lewiston in the early morning hours.
This impacted pea and lentil farmers who have traditionally relied on the Lewiston to Portland river system to move containerized commodities abroad. Over the past few months they have faced higher costs and struggled to book trucks that are already busy moving many products.
“Growers should realize savings with the return of container on barge service,” said Mike Quann, a director with Maviga. The export company was the first to book outbound containers.
“Plus taking trucks and trailers off the already over congested I-5/1-90 corridor and shipping the same cargo via the efficient and environmentally friendly barge and rail service makes a lot of sense,” Quann said. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
The Port of Portland, Port of Morrow, Tidewater barge company, Northwest Container Services and the Port of Lewiston partnered to return container service. Containers loaded on Tidewater barges in Lewiston will unload at the Port of Morrow in Boardman, Ore., where they will travel by rail to the Port of Tacoma or Seattle and onward to international markets.
“Our plans are to quickly grow the service and provide this alternative for customers until container service returns to the Port of Portland,” said Port of Lewiston Vice President Jerry Klemm. “Agriculture accounts for over 5 percent of the gross regional product of North Central Idaho, so anything that helps inland growers helps us all.”
Northport Tenant News
LC ICE ARENA
Winter is a good season to embrace the ice and check out the LC Ice Arena. New skating lessons (figure and hockey) begin in January and the LC Ice Arena hosts numerous public skates as well as local hockey team practices and games.
Through New Year’s Day, the Lewis Clark Amateur Hockey Association is hosting “Hat Trick for Hunger” to feed the local community. Each time you bring in 3 non-perishable food items you receive $2 off regular admission price. Visit www.lcicearena.com for more information.
PACIFIC STEEL & RECYCLING
Jason Heath is the new branch manager for Pacific Steel and Recycling in Lewiston, replacing manager Russ Taylor who is retiring in January after nearly 40 years of service.
Heath has been employed with Pacific Steel and Recycling for eight years. Before accepting the branch manager position in Lewiston in Sept. 2015, he worked as branch manager in Tacoma, Wash. at the Pacific Steel and Recycling export trans-load facility.
“I am looking forward to upholding Pacific’s tradition of excellent customer care and responsible management while continuing to build relationships and trust with the local community,” he said.
Heath lives in the Lewis-Clark Valley with his wife, Stacie and son, Bryson. He was born and raised in Southern Idaho, resided in the Treasure Valley, and most recently lived in the Tacoma, Wash. area.
“My family and I are pleased to have the chance to be involved with our new community,” he said. “We look forward to taking advantage of the multitude of outdoor activities, making new friends, and learning about the community as a whole.”
Port Commission Message
We believe having a multidimensional port authority is important for our local economy.
You probably just received your 2016 tax bill. Please take a look at what you will pay the Port this year. A very small fraction of your overall bill (in most cases less than 1 percent) is going to the Port to help develop jobs and economic growth in our community.
In this issue, we discuss Swift and a few other tenants important to our economy and quality of life. You can also read about our work to return container service and alleviate stress for local farmers. These are just a few examples of how we fulfill our role.
Taxpayers of Nez Perce County can be assured they are getting a strong return on their property tax investment to the Port of Lewiston. Every dollar the Port receives in property tax investment creates $8.80 in local tax revenue. This equates to almost $4 million in local tax revenue generated by firms located on Port of Lewiston developed properties.
As Idaho’s only seaport, we are a unique Idaho asset. Across the border in Washington there are 75 public port districts. According to washingtonports.org, “Large and small, east and west, Washington’s ports are active in many different areas of economic development, providing jobs and economic stimulation for their communities.”
The Port plays an important public role in economic development. Consider this statement from Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter: “The Port has become one of Lewiston’s critical vehicles for public infrastructure investment, committing $500,000 annually to land development, infrastructure and job creation policies. The success and viability of the Port affects every aspect of the region’s economy.”
You may hear the argument that the Port is not self-sustaining. This is inaccurate; taxes are not used to fund general operations. The Port collects property taxes to reinvest in our local economy. For example, this year the Port will spend approximately $900,000 above the $420,000 levied in taxes on economic development. The majority of this is for construction of the initial backbone of a dark fiber optic system that will pave the way for improved access to high speed internet. This infrastructure project will ultimately help local businesses stay competitive in a global marketplace increasingly reliant on fast and efficient technology.
In a recent Port Report we discussed how Nez Perce Terrace PUD in Lewiston is a terrific example of public and private partnership in economic development. Before this 183-acre area was developed it generated approx. $2,900 in annual property taxes. It now pulls in approx. $1.1 million each year.
“Today, numerous businesses including: Home Depot, Safeway, Walgreen’s, Ross Dress For Less, TJ Maxx, Eddie Bauer, Pier 1 Imports, Famous Footwear, Petco, Banner Bank, Panda Express and Applebee’s have created hundreds of jobs and increased tax revenue which is a direct result of the Port’s involvement in developing this property,” said Richard Vandervert, managing member of PUD developer Bedrock, LLC.
The truth is, it takes private and public partnerships like Nez Perce Terrace PUD to grow an economy. A community must be willing to invest in itself to draw investment from companies big and small.
The Port does not directly create jobs—businesses create jobs. However, we believe our work makes it easier for existing businesses to grow, for new businesses to start and other businesses to locate here by offering developed and undeveloped properties for sale and lease as well as a business incubator program.
There are approximately 1,840 direct jobs (2,736 jobs when you include the multiplier effect) associated with properties owned or developed by the Port. Would all of those jobs be here whether or not the Port had provided assistance? We would argue “no.” We are a part of a competitive, global economy in which businesses can, and will, locate where they find the most advantages and the best quality of life. Businesses are here, at least in part, because of what our community has to offer.
Consider a final example of our work. Seekins Precision entered the Port of Lewiston incubator program as a small start-up. Today, it employees approximately 30 people at its privately owned manufacturing facility and sells modern sporting rifles, parts and accessories throughout the U.S.
“Without the Port’s involvement we would have been somewhat hamstrung renting an expensive small building bounded by its walls instead of realizing our dreams,” said founder Glen Seekins.
Success stories like these keep us committed to the important work we do at the Port of Lewiston. Thank you for your support of our local economy!
Commissioner Hasenoehrl visits with interested citizens at the Nez Perce County Fair.
Thank you to everyone who stopped by to learn more about what the Port does and our current projects.