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Industry Highlight: Dive into Seattle’s Maritime Industry 

The Maritime Industry in Seattle is the nation’s fourth largest container gateway and one of Seattle’s key industries. Maritime is vital for global trade and economic growth – in Washington state alone, it is responsible for creating $21.4 billion in annual revenue, employing more than 69,500 workers, and generating $4.1 billion in wages.  

In celebration of the passage of the “Industrial and Maritime Strategy” legislation by Seattle City Council, the Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) has partnered with Converge Media to bring you the story of Sea Potential, a visionary youth-focused organization founded by marine science enthusiasts Savannah Smith and Ebony Welborn.  

Ebony Welborn (left) and Savannah Smith (right) 

Ebony and Savannah met in 2019 while doing environmental restoration at EarthCorps, an AmeriCorps program, and quickly bonded over their shared experiences and passions, leading them to create Sea Potential. 

“At the end of the service year, the organization hosted a workshop where we got to envision what we’d want to do in the future. We were asked what we’d do if all our fears subsided and money or no other barriers were in our way,” said Savannah Smith, Sea Potential co-founder. “Ebony and I both stood up and said something very similar along the lines of connecting BIPOC youth to marine science because we wished we had more opportunities and exposure ourselves growing up. It surprised and excited us to find that we shared that dream, but we didn’t imagine anything would come of it anytime soon.”  

Savannah and Ebony were able to receive a grant from Justice Outside which led to the creation of Sea Potential. The mission of their organization is to “cultivate a full cycle of Black Indigenous People of Color representation in maritime. Through healing activities and ocean justice conversations, we focus on fostering youth appreciation and connection to marine ecosystems, in addition to transforming the maritime industry with inclusive workplace culture.”  

To accomplish this mission, Ebony and Savannah established two main organizational tracks. The first track aims to help youth foster heart-based connections to water by acknowledging individual and generational trauma around water, sharing tools for healing, and creating more opportunities in the community for positive experiences around water. The second track is corporate advancement. Within the industry itself, they are promoting representation over assimilation by consulting on workplace culture, and helping businesses strengthen their relationships within community. 

“Our goals are to continue growing as an organization in a way that allows for us to expand the amount, variety, and continuity of programming we provide,” stated Ebony Wellborn, Sea Potential co-founder. “We also hope to expand our programming across the country and globe eventually. However, we always say that we hope someday our services are no longer needed in the same capacity, as we work towards our mission of creating a full cycle of BIPOC representation within the industry. At that point, we are excited to see what we can dream up and create from there. We hope that our dreams and visions of the future get outshined by the reality of what will truly be instore for us.” 

Through Sea Potential, Ebony and Savannah are transforming lives and shaping a future where inclusivity and sustainability thrive. From empowering the next generation of marine scientists to fostering opportunities for underrepresented communities, their work drives meaningful change in Seattle.