Monday, December 27, 2010

Redistricting - A Zero Sum Game

The New York Times has an interesting story on the parties efforts to redistrict congressional seats throughout the nation.

Washington state's recent gain of a congressional seat means somewhere in the country another state will lose a seat. The additional seat(s) given to states in the South and West due to increases in population numbers will be off-set by the loss of seats in states from the Mid-west and East Coast region.

The Times also reports many of the decision makers involved in determining the congressional district lines have a lot of new friends. In Washington, the congressional district lines will be determined by a Redistricting Commission comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans selected by the legislative caucuses and a chairperson selected by those four commissioners.

More information can be found on the commission website although it needs to be updated once the new commission is officially selected.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Washington gets a 10th Congressional Seat!

It is official.

Based on the latest Census results, Washington will gain a new congressional seat.

The News Tribune has more information and an interactive national map produced by the Census Bureau outlining the population shift at this link.

Governor Gregoire, commenting on the new Census results said, “I’m proud of the work of our citizens – many worked tirelessly to ensure Washingtonians were counted, and because of their effort, our state’s mail back participation exceeded the national average. Their effort is an important part in ensuring democracy and representation.”

Lilah Gael, U.S. Census Bureau said, there was a 9% increased response rate from Pierce County and "it could not have been done without the Chamber." Many will recall the numerous marketing and advertising support and the use of office space for Census taker training that the Chamber gave the Census to increase our response rate.

It worked and it produced positive results!  In addition to more Congressional clout, the state and Pierce County will be advantaged by an enhanced federal allocation for the next decade.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

PCEI 2010-2011 Broadcast Times & Channels

Missed the Horizons 2011 economic forecast event this morning?

You still have the opportunity to hear both the keynote speaker Dr. Bob Baur and the PCEI forecasters Drs. Bruce Mann and Doug Goodman on TV Tacoma - both in the City and in Pierce County public television.

Broadcast Replay Times:

Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011
8 a.m. & 5 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011
1 a.m., 3 p.m. & 8 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 3, 2011
4 a.m., 2 p.m., 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011
4 a.m. & 11 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011
9 a.m. & 8 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011
1 p.m. & 9 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 7, 2011
2 p.m. & 10 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011
8 a.m. & 5 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011
1 a.m., 3 p.m. & 8 p.m.

TV Tacoma is carried on both the Click! and Comcast cable systems.

On Click! TV Tacoma can be seen on Channel 12 in the Tacoma city limits and in Pierce County, with the exception of University Place, where it is found on Channel 21.

On Comcast, TV Tacoma can be seen on Channel 21 in Pierce County. It is NOT carried on the Comcast system in University Place.

TV Tacoma is also streamed on the internet at  here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Mystery of the Economy: Get Clues from an Exclusive Local Forecast

The Pierce County Economic Index (PCEI): what is it and why is it important?

  • Designed to measure the economic well-being of Pierce County, the PCEI report is constructed from more than 25 local, regional and national data sets.
  • The data sets for the report were chosen for their tested relevance, timely availability and consistency of reporting.
  • The report is unique to Pierce County and an exceptional business tool rarely duplicated in other communities.
There have been 20+ years of annual PCEI reports unveiled at the Chamber’s Horizons economic forecast event, which serves as the initial presentation of the PCEI. Authors of the PCEI, Drs. Bruce Mann and Douglas Goodman, professors of economics at the University of Puget Sound, present the forecast in a general conference session.

Attendees of this year’s event (scheduled for the morning of Thursday, December 16, 7:30 a.m.), will be treated to an audience-friendly, part humorous, part somber, comprehensive and always significant presentation by the professors (adept from 23 years of informative reporting).

With the help of their “magnifying glass” scrutinizing our area’s economy, get clues that will assist in clearing the economic air of mystery surrounding the upcoming year by joining us at the 2011 Horizons Economic Forecast event next Thursday at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center.

Would-be economic detectives can sign up by clicking here—but remember, the hourglass is emptying quickly as online registration is cut off at 10 am, Monday, December 13.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

State Sets Up Small Business Reference Site

The Washington State Department of Commerce website which lets small businesses and individuals search for training, technical assistance, and other types of support is now available.

The address for the site is . The site allows users to perform a simple search to locate the service or services they are interested in and that are offered in their county, or they can select “statewide” to see all available services.

What are YOUR hiring plans?

During the month of December, WorkForce Central is asking Pierce County employers to share their confidential insights about hiring plans for 2011.

It will take approximately two minutes to confidentially answer the 10 question survey - click here. Your input will provide important feedback that WorkForce Central could use to effectively serve Pierce County employers during the coming year.

To receive the results of the survey directly, include your e-mail address at the end of the survey.

You may share this survey with fellow Pierce County employers by sharing the survey link:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Forecast Incentivized for Small Business

Small businesses are offered a special price for the Chamber’s Horizons 2011 Economic Forecast event on Thursday, December 16, 2010, 7 to 9 a.m. at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center.

Cost for small businesses (with zero to five employees) is $50 per person. Regular price for the event is $65 per person.

"Small businesses, who don’t have their own economist or market forecasters will find this event especially helpful,” said Gary Brackett, the Chamber’s Business and Trade Development Manager. “Small businesses can use the Pierce County Economic Index, chart their historical sales or revenues against the forecast and generate their budgets for next year.”

The annual forecast of the area’s economic well-being, the Pierce County Economic Index (PCEI) report, will be presented by Drs. Bruce Mann and Douglas Goodman, professors of economics at the University of Puget Sound. Attendees will receive copies of the PCEI, (an incomparable business tool rarely duplicated in other communities), at the breakfast event.

In addition, Keynote Speaker Dr. Robert Baur will report on national and region economies in his presentation. As Principal Global Investors’ managing director and chief economist, Dr. Baur establishes and directs global economic policy and strategy, oversees and conducts macroeconomic and quantitative research, forecasts economic trends and anticipates market movements.

Expert insights on the local, regional and national aspects of the economy make this an invaluable event for businesses who want assistance in determining their business outlook.

To register click here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Local Projects Get Money

Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Washington State Department of Commerce announced today that nine jurisdictions have been granted authority to issue more than $77.8 million of Recovery Zone Bonds and $5.3 million in Small-Issue Private Activity Bonds.  Local projects:

Jurisdiction           Authority           Project

Pierce County         $5.3 million         Frederico Enterprises: Acquisition and remodel of 82,000 square-foot facility to process salmon for distribution to local supermarkets.

City of Tacoma       $9.4 million         Tacoma Dome Parking Facility: Construction of a new parking garage at the Tacoma Dome.

The Bond Cap Allocation Program helps state and local jurisdictions provide tax-exempt bond financing for projects with substantial private investment and resulting in public benefits such as job creation, environmental protection, creating affordable housing, assisting first-time home buyers, and improving public infrastructure.

Learn more about the Bond Cap Allocation and Community Renewal Program here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

City Follows Thru on B&O Tax Breaks

Tuesday night, the Tacoma City Council unanimously passed Ordinance No. 27958 adopting breaks on the local B&O tax.

Lead by Mayor Marilyn Stickland, who spoke directly to the issue at the Chamber's Board of Directors during their January 2010 meeting, the Council's action will directly positively impact many smaller businesses. 

The ordinance increases the floor amount of the gross taxable minimum threshold from a set $75,000 (2010) to $250,000 (2011 and beyond), exempting those businesses less than that amount.  As an assistance to those smaller businesses on the margins of the new minimum floor, the Council added an incremental tax credit for gross income between $250,000 and $300,000.

Those incremental steps are:

Gross Income                            Tax Credit % of total tax due
  • $250,000                                  $0
  • $250,001 thru 260,000               90%
  • $260,001 thru 270,000               80%
  • $270,001 thru 280,000               70%
  • $280,001 thru 290,000               45%
  • $290,001 thru 300,000               25%
These changes will apply for tax reporting periods beginning January 1, 2011.

The Chamber expresses its appreciation to the Council and the leadership of Mayor Strickland on behalf of the businesses in the City of Tacoma for this most positive step benefitting the competitiveness of city businesses and improving the economic climate of the community.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Why Attend The Public Officials Reception?

Join us at the Chamber’s upcoming Public Officials Holiday Reception on Wednesday, December 8 at the Pacific Grill Events Center--register here.

This year's reception will feature the largest number ever of public officials in attendance for the annual event. It will bring you face-to-face with your elected officials where you can converse about the future of business in Washington. You will be able to develop important relationships with decision makers.

These are not easy times, but working to develop a strong relationship with those serving our community will make a difference in how budget cuts will affect business at all levels. With a $5.7 billion deficit facing Washington state and budget cuts needing to be made in all levels of government, it is vitally important the business community have a voice.

It is equally important to thank those officials -- elected and appointed both -- for their service to our community. Public officials do not have a easy job and are a critical element in our local economic climate. Good public servants can make or break a community -- just ask the folks in Bell, CA.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Power and Weather

Tacoma Power advises all to read the information below regarding current and future weather conditions as they pertain to power availability and precautions.

In the event of an outage, please turn off as much load as possible, especially any 3 phase units, so that the cold load is minimized when we do restore power. Leave some lighting on so you have an indicator as to when power is restored.

If you would like more information, the most direct route to information is to call Dispatch at 253-502-8602.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shoreline Update: Now for the Hard Stuff

The Tacoma Planning Commission held their first session focused on responding to public comments about the preliminary draft Shoreline Master Program (SMP) Update Wednesday night.

On the agenda: marine buffers and exemptions.

Staff explained that the complexity of the proposed SMP Update partially occurs because of the attempt to integrate the existing Critical Areas Protection Ordinance (CAPO) and the Shoreline Master Program. This complexity is especially relevant in the issue of marine buffers. The Chamber expects more discussion of this issue. Commissioners were very interested in understanding where the proposals go beyond CAPO or SMP into new or amended regulation.
In the presentation about exemptions, staff acknowledged there is a problem as written to understand how exemptions would be handled. Among proposed fixes to this issue are: decoupling exemption from the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit requirements, standardization of forms, use of existing studies for documentation and a quest for other suggestions, especially from the Port of Tacoma.

More follow-on meetings to examine responses and input from Commissioners are expected to address the myriad issues in the proposed SMP Update.

The Chamber shared with Planning Commissioners its objectives for these issues, including many more still to be examined, in a letter and attached “track changes/red line” version of the preliminary draft. The letter is here and the changes version is here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Political Activity In America

There is a great deal of political activity around the country and in the local area.

FEDERAL: Rep. Boehner was selected as the new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Nancy Pelosi will become the Minority Leader of the House Democrats.

ALASKA: It has been announced Senator Murkowski (did I spell that correctly?) will retain her seat after losing the Republican primary earlier this year and winning the general election as a write-in candidate. It appears she is increasing her current lead of 1,500 votes. Expect a recount unless the second place candidate Republican Joe Miller concedes the race as he indicated he might do.

PUYALLUP: The race in the 25th Legislative District continues to be close with challenger Hans Zeiger ahead by 36 votes. Current Representative Dawn Morrell had the lead for a short period of time, but lost the lead a couple of days ago. There will be a recount.

Horizons 2011 Economic Forecast Event: Get Clued

South County Division Signs Skills Center Resolution

Is There Enough Windstorm Damage to Qualify to Aid?

As we do whenever Mother Nature throws a tantrum, we're looking for businesses that may have suffered damage or loss due to Monday's wind storm.

If enough damage is identified, Pierce County may qualify for state or federal disaster declarations, and the attendant small business aid that goes along with it. A minimum of five injured businesses is required to trigger the SBA’s EIDL program.

If you or hear of or talk with businesses in the next week or two that suffered economic loss due to the windstorm, contact Rob Allen, 253.798.6915, Economic Development Specialist, Pierce County.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Help Make DREAM Come True for Top Local Business

Nominate a business from our community for the U.S. Chamber's 2011 DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year--the winner receives a $10,000 cash prize!

Visit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Summit webpage to enter your choice. Nominations are due by January 7, 2011.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Election Update!

Senator Patty Murray has increased her lead over Dino Rossi from 27,464 votes to 45,661 votes. LiveWire is calling this race in favor of Senator Murray.

The race for the 25th Legislative District's State Representative between Dawn Morrell and Hans Zeiger remains close with Zeiger trailing by 100 votes. LiveWire is predicting a recount and expects the winner will not be known for at least another week.

Tami Green has pulled further ahead in the race for the 28th Legislative District State Representative. With Green’s 921 vote lead over Paul Wagemann, LiveWire is calling this race for Green.

Check here for Pierce County up-to-date results

Check here for Washington State up-to-date results

Making Money with New Money

Tacoma-Pierce Co. Chamber members qualify for the member price of $12 and should so note that on their registration.                                                                                                                                               

Chamber Scores on Ballots--The Final Count

For up-to-date results for this year's elections, check out these links:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

More Election Results for Close Races

Senator Patty Murray continues to increase her lead against Dino Rossi. She now has a 27,464 vote lead.

Congressman Rick Larsen has taken the lead from challenger John Koster. He narrowly holds the 2nd congressional district seat by a 507 vote margin.

25th Legislative District State Rep. Dawn Morrell has retaken the lead from challenger Hans Zeiger by a mere 16 votes.

28th Legislative District State Rep. Tami Green is beginning to pull away from challenger Paul Wagemann with a 637 vote lead. Her seatmate Troy Kelley appears to be heading to victory after a difficult race again Steve O'Ban.

Liquor Measures Both Die

The latest results from the Secretary of State's office show the measures to close the state liquor stores and allow the private market to sell spirits and hard liquor have both failed.

I-1100 was close on election night, but appears to have stumbled and not recovered. The 'no' votes have gained a lead of approximately 65,000 votes which will be difficult to gain ground on.

Pierce County Results as of today @ 5:00 pm

The latest results from the Pierce County Auditor's office and Secretary of State have established a trend showing those candidates leading last night -- despite the narrow margin -- will likely maintain their lead for the remaining vote counts over the next few days.

Senator Patty Murray has a 25,000 vote lead over Dino Rossi statewide. While Rossi has a lead in Pierce County, it remains at a 3,000 vote difference. Without growing traction in Pierce County and other counties outside of King County, it will be difficult for him to win.

Dispite currently losing Pierce County to Dick Muri, U.S. Representative Adam Smith has maintained his lead throughout the entire district.

Challenger Hans Zeiger's lead over state Representative Dawn Morrell has dropped to only 24 votes now.

Laurie Jinkins has a lead of 2,000 votes against opponent Jake Fey, which has not changed substantially from last night.

Pierce County Councilmember Shawn Bunney leads in his home county against opponent Cathy Dahlquist, a fellow Republican. Her lead in her home county of King County is larger by 2,800 votes allowing her to maintain a lead of 1,700 votes total.

Go to the following links to see the most up-to-date results on this year's election:

Pierce County Election Results

Washington State Election Results

Latest Election Information coming soon

Pierce County is expected to release their latest vote counts soon. Two rounds of counts will be forthcoming tonight.

The first round will be at 5:00 pm and the second round will be at 8:00 pm.

This information is important since it will likely establish the trends for the rest of the votes coming in over the next few days.

More information soon...

Chamber Scores on Ballots

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mayor Talks B&O Tax at Chamber's Board Meeting Today

Tacoma is raising the floor - literally - on its B&O tax for small businesses. 

Mayor Marilyn Strickland outlined Tacoma's proposed revisions to the City's B&O tax regulations at today's Chamber Board of Directors' meeting. Read the Mayor’s PowerPoint presentation from this morning.

Targeted to small business and economic diversity and vitality, the provisions raising the floor exempts about 4,900 small businesses from paying any Tacoma B&O tax, although they will still be subject to Washington State's B&O tax on their gross revenues. 

Today's floor for Tacoma's B&O is $75,000 in gross revenues.  The proposal would raise that floor to $250,000 in 2011.  Tacoma would have the highest floor among Puget Sound cities.  A proposed stepped increase in the floor would raise the threshold to $300,000 in five years.

The next step is adoption by the Tacoma City Council in November 2010, for the 2011-12 budgeting cycle.

A long time objective, the Chamber welcomes this revision as addressing a pressing burden on Tacoma's businesses. 

Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber
Advocacy Timeline: B&O Tax Policies

January, 2010
Featured Mayor Marilyn Strickland at a Chamber Board meeting, where she promised to address the economic dampening of the City’s B&O Tax. Advocacy during the ensuing months as this initiative was developed.

December, 2009
Lead organizer advocating that the City of Tacoma nullify tax claw-back for employment credits against B&O Tax payments during this recessionary time.

Chamber staff service on the Tacoma Service Tax Task Force, 20 meetings, which recommended the City of Tacoma cut the city B&O tax.

December 1999
Legislative priorities
“Reduce the B&O Tax Burden Further: reduce the negative impact of the Business and Occupation tax on the state’s economic development and the onerous burden it places on entrepreneurs and start-up companies.”

December 1998
Legislative Priorities
“1-Tax and Fiscal Policy
A-Maintain B&O tax rates at current level while lowering the exemption threshold for small businesses.”

August, 1990
City of Tacoma Taxes and Spending
“The City could improve the climate for small business start-ups and growth with minor procedural changes to its B&O threshold and its bidding process.”

June 1988
Policy: Tax Policy” Goals in imposition of taxes. It notes that Chamber intends to (address) various tax proposals for a 1988 Legislative priorities.

December 1986
Legislative Priorities
“Budget/Taxes/Economic Development. Tax Reform: The Chamber will also support granting additional tax authority, with the exception of the B and O tax, to cities and counties to finance specific local improvement projects.”

December 1986
Chamber's Legislative Priorities
“B and O Tax: Changes in the existing business and occupation tax is a vital part of any serious tax reform plan. The proposed single rate tax appears to be a step in the right direction, but in reality is not helpful. Impacts of the proposed tax on small, service sector businesses which are the current growth area of the economy, would be devastating. The Chamber will support changes in the tax which do not have such a negative impact. Examples of reforms the Chamber will support include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- exempting new businesses from the state B and o tax for three years
- reducing the state B and O tax for new businesses for three years
- restricting the ability of local government to impose separate B and O taxes”

Money for Small Business

Part of the Chamber's service is to support small business. Below, is a press release of the Small Business Jobs Act signed into law September 27, 2010.

The Chamber's next SBA Loan Briefing on How to Obtain U.S. Small Business Administration Loans will be on Tuesday, December 14, 2010, from 1-2:30pm in the Chamber Simpson Room.

Register here

UP-Fircrest Candidates' Forum: UPDATE

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Stan Flemming will not be able to attend the UP-Fircrest Candidates' Forum tomorrow, October 29th. Instead, Michael Weinman of Weinman Consulting will present an election preview.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chamber Hosts WPC's Regional Small Business Forum

The annual Regional Small Business Forum by the Washington Policy Center on how small businesses might be impacted in the upcoming Legislative session will be featured in the Chamber’s upcoming Good Morning Power Networking Breakfast scheduled for Tues., Nov. 16th (the 3rd Tues., not the 4th), from 7:30am to 9:15 am ,at La Quinta Conference Center.

2010 Small Business Forum: Pierce County

Washington Policy Center is hosting seven Small Business Forums throughout the state. Talk with policy experts about the challenges facing your business, meet other business owners, discuss how the election results will affect you and your business, and look ahead to what's in store for the 2011 Legislative Session.

Register online or Monique Shields or 253.627.2175
Event is sponsored by Columbia Bank and Regence BlueShield.

UP-Fircrest Candidates' Forum

They’re at it again!

The Up-Fircrest division of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, which is known for its exciting debates and forums, will be hosting a Pierce County Council Candidates’ forum for a discussion of business issues on Friday, October 29 at 8:00am. Local advocacy is an important component of the Chamber’s mission. In fulfilling their commitment to assist in the election of business-minded public officials, the UP-Fircrest Division is hosting this candidate forum during its regular monthly meeting for the Pierce County Council.

Stan Flemming and Betty Ringlee , two candidates seeking to replace current Pierce County Council Member Terry Lee who is term-limited, were invited by the UP-Fircrest division.
The host will be division president Randy Walden.

To RSVP, visit the Chamber website or contact Susie Wagner at 253.627.2175 by October 27th. The event is free to Chamber members.

South County Council Candidates' Forum 2010

The South County Division of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber held a candidates’ forum for County Council position number five candidates Audrey Chase and Rick Talbert.

The forum began with a two minute opening from each candidate, followed by three questions chosen by the Chamber Board and a 2 minute closing.

The three questions posed to the candidates covered critical issues to the district and county ranging from small business to safety and transportation. Both candidates recognized that poor planning and unfinished projects have plagued the county, and each suggested that they are the best candidate to finish projects and get things done. Chase highlighted her ability to bring new people and new ideas to the county, while Talbert called attention to his past success and experience.

The South County Candidates’ Forum provided audience members with the opportunity to hear each candidates’ stance on issues about small business, safety, and transportation. The candidates also addressed audience questions about Garfield Street renovations and Pierce County Planning and Land Services (PALS) in a Question & Answer Session that followed the forum.

For more photos, visit our facebook page and check out the photo album!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Shorelines Task Force Reviews Latest Draft

The Chamber's Shorelines Task Force met today discussing the preliminary draft of the City of Tacoma's Shoreline Master Plan Update.

The morning's work is preparatory to submittal of comments both by the Chamber and the involved businesses as well as backgrounding for future workshops.  The next two public workshops are scheduled:

Wed., Oct. 20, Urban Waters, 5:00 p.m.
Wed., Oct. 27, Urban Waters, 5:00 p.m.

The discussion was lead by Dale Yeager, Yeager Assoc., Land Use & Consulting, who has contributed expertise before to the task force members evaluating the developmental phases of Tacoma SMP Update.  More photos here.

Yeager's lead took members through three aspects of Tacoma's SMP Update: 
  1. fee in lieu for public access proposed requirements
  2. intent language for various shoreline districts
  3. uses chart summarizing permitted and non-permitted uses in various districts
After a discussion of these issues, members were advised to consider the process for exemption of shoreline regulations as a new proposed exemption process would require the same $s, time, talent and labor as a permit itself.

Written public comments are due to the Tacoma for an upcoming report to the Tacoma Planning Commission Nov. 3. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Procurement Notices from Port

The Port of Tacoma has recently added a new feature to its website that notifies constituents when certain pages on the site are updated. 

Chamber members might find this feature particularly helpful in terms of updates to the web page describing opportunities to do business with the port.  This is where the Port publishes call-for-bids, requests-for-proposals, etc. 

Members can certainly change their preferences whenever they want.  For more information, members should visit our website at:

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Great Income Tax Debate Redux

If you weren't one of the several hundred people at the Great Income Tax Debate tonight, you missed a sometime funny, often passionate debate between pros and cons for Initiative 1098 coming on the general election ballot for Nov. 2.

But you've still got a chance.  TVW will broadcast the Great Income Tax Debate:
  • Tuesday, Oct. 12, 7:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 12, 10:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 13, 7:30 p.m.
Plus, CBS was taping the debate for 60 Minutes.  Look for it in future programming.

The Chamber brought this to Tacoma and the UWT's Philip Hall for all citizens of our state thanks to our co-sponsors:  League of Women Voters, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences at UWT and the City Club of Tacoma.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Economy Upturns for Tacoma-Pierce County

Data lag about the economy for local areas is finally catching up with the news about national stats. 

So, if the nation is past the recession, where is our own community.  According to new compilations of data available from the FDIC, we too are out of the recession.  The Fed's Regional Economic Conditions (RECON) was originally designed to assist the FDIC in the examination process by providing economic information at the state, MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area), and county levels. It is helpful in the analysis of risks facing financial institutions.

Using RECON, anyone with Internet access is able to drill down to any state, MSA, or county to view standard graphs, tables, and maps depicting economic conditions and how they have changed over time.

Our drill down produced these results (data is available for Pierce County, the Tacoma Metropolitan Division - which is Pierce County, or both):

Total Housing Permit Growth in Pierce County had been doing better than Washington State or national stats for about the previous year, until the final quarter of 2009.  While these larger areas picked up sooner, Pierce County is also showing improvement.

And for an anecdotal perspective, consider The News Tribune's recent article about apartment construction.  Noted industry specialist Mike Scott, Dupre and Scott, observed that Pierce County vacancy was 7.6% this spring, falling to 5.2% in the fall. 

Employment Growth shows an even more marked improvement.  The low point for the nation, Washington and the Tacoma metro was the third quarter of 2009.  None have yet hit positive growth numbers, but the trend shows clearly we're approaching a breakeven point for employment growth.

And yes, this employment growth (or slowing loss) has translated into improvement in the unemployment.  Again, all three levels of government show a trending dip in unemployment after hitting its peak in the first quarter of 2010. 
Although the Feds haven't produced info on retail sales, the BE (Business Examiner) Daily (online newsletter) yesterday reported that taxable retail sales during the second quarter of 2010 inched up 0.76% in Pierce County and 0.17% in Thurston County, when Washington suffered a statewide decline of 1%.
A particularly bright spot reported by the BE Daily was that sales of new and used cars were up 4.3% to $1.8 billion and accommodations (hotels) and food services (restaurants) were up by 2.4% to $2.9 billion.
What's been the most obvious difference in our local economy, as compared to the nation and even our neighbors within the state:  18,000 soldiers returned from deployment - beginning in the second quarter 2010.  That return extended through the third quarter, so more good news is hoped for when next quarter's data comes out.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Overview of the Preliminary Draft: Tacoma Shoreline Master Plan Update

Chamber member and volunteer Dale Yeager, Principal, Yeager Associates, Land Use & Planning, will share her professional expertise with all Shorelines Task Force members about the new preliminary draft Shoreline Master Plan for Tacoma.

Yeager is expected to address: what's there we asked for, what's there we asked not to be, and what's there unanticipated.

This is preparatory for informational purposes before the expected Public Meeting, Nov. 3rd by the City of Tacoma Planning Commission.

Members are encouraged to continue their own "read" of the preliminary draft. Come with your own comments and questions!

When: Monday, October 18 at 10:00am
Where: Simpson Community Room located at the Chamber Office, 950 Pacific Ave., Suite 300, Tacoma, WA, 98402
Register for this complimentary event here.

South County Council Candidates Speaking to Chamber

Local advocacy is an important component of the Chamber’s mission. In fulfilling our commitment to assist in the election of business-minded public officials, the South County Division of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber will be hosting a candidate forum during its regular monthly meeting for the Pierce County Council.

Candidates Audrey Chase and Rick Talbert are vying for the seat held by current Councilmember Barbara Gelman, who is term-limited and unable to run for re-election.

The forum will take place during the regular meeting of the South County Division where the candidates will be asked to provide opening and closing statements and answer questions posed by the moderator and current Division President Paul Williams. The questions will relate to economic development and community issues in the South Pierce County area.

The forum is open to Chamber members and invited guests only.

Details about the event are below:

South County Division Candidates Forum
South County Connections Luncheon
Wednesday, October 20th from Noon- 1:30 PM
Location: Pacific Lutheran University, Regency Room, University Center
121st Street & Park Avenue, Tacoma 98444

Cost for lunch is $10 per person
Info/Registration: Susie Wagner or call 253.627-2175
Written by: Mike Weinman, Weinman Consulting

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chamber Divisions Host Candidates Forums

The South County and UP-Fircrest Chamber Divisions will be holding candidates forums during their regular monthly meetings, South County Connections and Wake UP, respectively.

South County
Date: Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Time: 12:00pm-1:30pm
Place: Pacific Lutheran University- Regency Room/University Center (S 122nd @ Park Ave, Tacoma)

*For more info or to register, click here

Wake UP
Date: Friday, October 29, 2010
Time: 7:30am-9:00am
Place: University Place Presbyterian Church (8101 27th St W, University Place)

*For more info or to register, click here

Look for more details in future Live Wire notices

Friday, September 24, 2010

New downtown Tacoma Link Station approved

The BIA Blog is reporting that yesterday the Sound Transit Board of Directors voted unanimously to support the construction of a new Tacoma Link station in downtown Tacoma. The new southbound and northbound light rail platforms for the stations are planned for Commerce St. between S. 11th and S. 12th.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, DaVita, the EDB and other members of the Tacoma Partnership have advocated for a Link stop at this location, which will provide better Link access for businesses and residents in the north end of downtown.

The City of Tacoma has been an active supporter of the project and will fund the $350,000 cost of construction.

Read more about the plans here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Alaska: Tacoma's North Star

A great success was accomplished by the Chamber's delegation at the 51st annual Alaska State Chamber Conference and Trade Show held earlier this week (Sept. 20-22) in Juneau.

The local delegation, accompanied by Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Tacoma Councilmember Spiro Manthou and Port of Tacoma Commissioner Don Meyer, provided a Tacoma Breakfast event, sharing with all conference attendees the now traditional Tacoma coffee mug featuring a select Alaska city on one side and the branded Chamber's Alaska Committee image on the other.

Click here to view photos from the trip at the Chamber's Facebook page.

A special thanks to all our sponsors:  Totem Ocean Trailer Express, Carlile Transportation Systems, Horizon Lines, Port of Tacoma, VersaCold Logistics and Gross & Assoc.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Congress Passes Small Business Legislation

Economic relief legislation for small business was a hot topic at yesterday's meeting of the Pacific Avenue Business District. Mike Weinman, the Chamber's Government Affairs Manager and Gary Brackett, Business & Trade Manager had been invited to discuss this impending legislation.

News broke that morning that the Senate overcame its deadlock and would be passing relief legislation this week.

In a 61 to 38 vote, the Senate joined the House in passing a bill today which would create a $30-billion small business lending fund. In addition, the bill will provide over $12 billion in tax breaks for small businesses that invest and hire employees.

Sen. Cantwell (in tan) and colleagues count the votes.

The bill would allow local community banks to access the $30-billion lending fund for small business loans. Many small businesses have complained about the inability to obtain loans from traditional big banks.

The bill also includes tax breaks for businesses on the purchase of equipment or shop improvements. Self-employed owners will be able to deduct healthcare costs from the self-employment tax.

The legislation is expected to create 500,000 jobs.

For further information, please see the New York Times article.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What Do You Need?

What do you need from the Chamber?  We want to hear from you.  Complete our online membership survey today!

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber is placing an even greater emphasis on listening to its members during these challenging times.

You have the opportunity to tell the Chamber of your preferences about advocacy, membership value and desired programming.

Your participation in this survey will help assure the Chamber's volunteer leaders and professional staff receive your respected input as they plan for the coming year.

The Chamber recently offered you the opportunity to participate in a survey focused on small business success and you will hear more about the results of that survey soon.

Your participation in this membership survey is invaluable and you are encouraged to complete this survey. Responses will be anonymous. The survey should take about 10 minutes.

Please note that if you are interrupted, use the "Exit this survey" link at the top right of every page - this will allow for you to return to the survey when it is more convenient.

Contracting Procurement Workshop

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Last Chance to Participate in Survey

Friday (Sept. 3) is the last chance for small businesses to participate in the Small Business Success Index survey.

Businesses have until midnight on Friday, Sept. 3 to participate in an online survey to measure their individual success against a standard of nationwide businesses. Respondents will be anonymous.

Businesses will get their own individual rating for a Small Business Success Index and through their participation will determine the Small Business Success Index for the community.

The survey also focuses on the local business climate to determine how supportive the area is for business success.

Chambers of commerce and business associations around Pierce County are collaborating with the survey, supported by Network Solutions and Rockbridge Associates. The Chamber will use the survey’s results to improve small business support services.

This will be an online survey only. Businesses may participate by following this link.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Field of Candidates Narrowed in Primary

The election in August narrowed the field of candidates running for office this November.

Senator Patty Murray (D) will take on challenger Dino Rossi (R) for the U.S. Senate. In the House, Norm Dicks (D) will once again take on Doug Cloud (R) for the four time and Adam Smith (D) will have a new challenger in Pierce County Councilmember Dick Muri (R).

In some of the races, members of the same party will face off against one another in the general election, which will be held on November 2, 2010.

Two Republicans will face each other in the general election in two of the legislative districts. In the 2nd legislative district, J.T. Wilcox will face incumbent Tom Campbell. In the 31st legislative district, Republicans Shawn Bunney and Kathy Dalquist will meet in the November election.

A similar fate awaits Democrats Jake Fey and Laurie Jinkins, who are running to replace retiring State Representative Dennis Flannigan in the 27th LD. It appears former Tacoma City Councilmember Connie Ladenburg will soon be in the state House of Representatives after a strong showing against three opponents.

In the county, Rick Talbert easily outmatched his opponents for the District 5 seat (incumbent Barbara Gelman was term-limited) by garnering 55% of the total vote. Democrat Betty Ringlee will square up against Republican Stan Flemming after a six candidate primary battle to represent District 7 (Gig Harbor/University Place). Democrat Pat McElligott will face Republican Dan Roach in the race to replace term-limited Shawn Bunney.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

US-Korea FTA Explores Adoption

The US-Korea FTA Forum tackled the contemporary question for adoption of the proposed free trade agreement between the U.S. and South Korea.  Korean Ambassador Han Duk-soo was the featured speaker addressing the issues.

Amb. Han noted that the U.S. already enjoys a trade surplus with Korea, and benefits from a net positive flow of foreign investment into the U.S. from Korean investors.   This FTA is expected to benefit the U.S. with $10-$11 billion increase in exports once adopted.  This FTA is the largest yet negotiated by Korea, but it remains unadopted.

(l to r) Consul General Lee and Ambassador Han confer during the Forum. More Photos.

For the U.S., Korea is now the world's fifth largest economy and the fourth largest in Asia.  This market of affluent consumers would become more accessible on US-Korea FTA adoption. For instance, Amb. Han referred to Roman Meal, an experienced and substantive exporter that is not in the Korean market because Korea currently charges an 800% tariff on whole wheat.  That tariff would disappear in 10 years with adoption of the FTA.

However, Pres. Obama has spoken of his preference for its adoption before a scheduled trip to Korea this November.  Already, a proposed Korea-E.U. FTA is nearing adoption, an agreement that wasn't even on the table when the U.S. Korea FTA was first submitted to Congress.  If the U.S. continues to stall, American companies and workers stand to lose big as Europeans gain eased market share.

A special thanks to collaborating organizations:  Tacoma-Pierce Co. Chamber, World Trade Center Tacoma, Korean Women's Assn., U.S. Chamber of Commerce, TradeRoots, U.S.-Korea Business Council and the Port of Tacoma (for additional hosting activities).

Chamber’s Metropolitan Development Manager appointed to State Board

Chelsea Levy, the Chamber’s Metropolitan Development Manager has been appointed by Governor Gregoire to the State’s Commute Trip Reduction Board (CTR Board) to serve a four-year term.

The CTR Board establishes program guidelines for the state's Commute Trip Reduction program, which strives to remove commute trips from the highway system, decreasing congestion and improving air quality. The board develops, reviews and approves local and regional and state plans, allocates funding, and provides general policy guidance for the CTR program.

Programs created by the CTR Board focus on removing trips from roadways by encouraging local jurisdictions and large employers to develop plans that motivate employees to commute in ways other than driving alone. The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s Downtown: On the Go! program supports the work of the CTR Board.
Downtown: On the Go!, a partnership between the Chamber, City of Tacoma and Pierce Transit promotes and advocates for transportation choices and commuter resources in downtown Tacoma. Downtown: On the Go! staff can help connect businesses and commuters to bus passes, ridesharing opportunities, vanpools, flexible work arrangements and more. Similarly, the Downtown: On the Go Transportation Partnership is an active partnership between 23 downtown businesses that leverage their resources and relationships to advocate for more transportation options in downtown Tacoma.

For more information about Downtown: On the Go’s programs and resources contact Julia Petersen, (253) 627-2175,

Monday, August 30, 2010

AWB's Regional Candidates Meetings in Pierce County

AWB’s Regional Membership Meetings, candidate interviews start tomorrow.

It’s not too late to RSVP for AWB’s Regional Membership Meetings and candidate interviews. These important meetings begin this week with a gathering tomorrow in Tacoma, followed by meetings in Vancouver and Bellevue. The meetings, which continue through the middle of September, not only give you a chance to meet with legislators, but are also an important part of AWB’s candidate endorsement process. Meetings are scheduled for:

· Aug. 31 — Tacoma (regional meeting and candidate interviews)

· Sept. 9 —  Gig Harbor (candidate interviews only)

· Sept. 10 — Puyallup (candidate interviews only)

Detailed information, including times, specific locations and agendas, is available on AWB’s events calendar. RSVP to AWB’s Bonnie Millikan at 800.521.9325.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

TacomaACTS Updates Their Website and Moves Their Blog!

The TacomaACTS blog page has moved to the updated TacomaACTS website!

Visit the updated website and join the Alliance to receive a monthly update on the program and make connections with other businesses pursuing sustainable business practices.

Don't forget to mark your calendars for the September 29th workshop on cost saving practices and incentives to save energy in your business!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Small Business: How Are You Doing?

Managing a small business is a big challenge – national survey results confirm it. How are you doing?

The semiannual Small Business Success Index tells the story in terms of six dimensions found to most influence small business success in America: marketing and innovation, technology (use of), capital access, work force, customer service and compliance (laws and regulations). The purpose of the national survey is to track the competitive health of small businesses over time. On these six measures and overall, America’s small businesses earn a “C” grade – just “getting by.”

The survey has been developed collaboratively by the University of Maryland Smith School of Business and Network Solutions and is administered by Rockbridge Associates in Virginia. The Tacoma-Pierce Country Chamber is also collaborating with them to conduct the survey by local business owners locally. You can take it at your convenience until 3 September. Why should you?

Taking the survey does two important things. Firstly, the fourteen-question survey immediately gives you your business scores in the six dimensions mentioned above – that alone would help you to better focus your efforts to improve success. There are also additional questions about your use of technology as well as the ease of doing business “here.”

Secondly, your responses will provide the basis for a report to be submitted to local chambers of commerce, local governments and other agencies, which will help them better target and develop programs to help business owners like yourself. One of those resources is currently being developed in the community via the Puget Sound American Marketing Association – to identify the marketing community and provide a means to assist small business owners in this critical area.

Your voice and responses are important to you and others – take the survey today!

Guest Blogger: Merl Simpson, Associate Professor of Marketing
School of Business, Pacific Lutheran University

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Smith Talks With Leadership Grads

This morning, Cong. Adam Smith met with graduates of the Chamber's Leadership classes to discuss current national and local issues.

Prime in the interchange were the economy and health care, a complex intertwined set of issues. 

Smith stated the greatest challenge is with the economy:  adding jobs and growing the economy, which he said has been beset with structural problems because we all fell in love with debt and easy credit, largely based on a housing bubble and speculation.  Smith focused on three issue areas:  energy, health care and tax policy. The political leadership has advanced programs on energy and health care, but the nation's tax policy is still dragging down our businesses competitive posture. 

Smith acknowledged that there are aspects of the recent health care reform legislation that need to be fixed.  He said Congress will revisit health care next year.  But, he offered, many are happy with the present (prior to health care reform passage) system, especially as business pays a sizable portion of the cost. 

As for the economy, Smith noted that the world has changed.  The US is no longer able to dominate the world economy; it is now in a competitive environment.  Smith disagrees with those who blame our present poor economy on having allowed foreign access to our domestic market, and spoke favorably about the proposed Free Trade Agreements with Korea and Colombia. But, he concedes we need to better our workforce's education and our competitive capabilities.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Shoreline Update Update

Community action - especially input from affected shoreline businesses and associated industry - is having an effect on Tacoma's Shoreline Update.

Last week, Tacoma Planner Stephen Atkinson met again with the Chamber's Shorelines Task Force to discuss newer aspects of a draft Update, revised given community input.  Once scheduled for release in November, the preliminary draft is now targeted for release as early as this week, or following the next Tacoma Planning Commission meeting.  Look for notices (and the Chamber will post the link when available).

There was a robust discussion among members and Atkinson as to what to expect.  Atkinson did ask that we all read the new draft when it comes out as he said the City has worked to be responsive to community input on issues and technical corrections. 

Nonetheless, expect an inclusion of a more enhance public access implementation policy.  Several members asked Atkinson as to the Washington Department of Ecology's (DOE) requirement for increased public access, given the miles of publicly accessible shoreline Tacoma now has?  It is safe to say that the City feels a need to enhance public access given DOE direction, even if that direction may be more applicable to other jurisdictions. 

For now, expect the public process to continue until April 2011, until final action by the Tacoma City Council, and submittal to DOE for its acceptance review process.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Korean Ambassador To Visit

The U.S.-Korea Partnership: Growing Jobs Across America tour was featured on the front page of the Washington Post today after Washington Post writer Howard Schneider accompanied the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a series successful forums about the benefits of the KORUS FTA in the Midwest last week.

The nationwide U.S.-Korea Partnership tour is being organized by the TradeRoots Program at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S.-Korea Business Council, in partnership with local chambers, associations, and companies across the country. Please see this link for the article: South Korea Free Trade Pact Back on U.S. Agenda