Friday, February 19, 2010

Shorelines Task Force Suggests Appropriate Language Be Used

Today's meeting of the Chamber's Shorelines Task Force overflowed with creative suggestions and heartfelt perspectives to Stephen Atkinson, Senior Planner, City of Tacoma, on how to meet the goals of shoreline use through the present Update process.

The Shorelines Task Force volunteers had prepared a first draft of suggested language they wish to see included in any draft that may go forward during the public involvement process.  Additionally, today's discussion contained several ideas that were expansions of these comments or new ideas brought forth:

The discussion that the documents address the "jobs" issue as a shorelines component is a new suggestion.

The expansions of comments on banking of valuable resources is an improvement to the task force's first suggestions. For instance, the idea of "banking" shoreline properties with great (e.g., 40 feet water depth) was a new dimension. The discussion of a "fee in lieu" was an amplification to suggestions contained in the attachment for alternative ideas on public access. And, the entire discussion about "mitigation recapture" was a creative approach to public access and environmental mitigation.

The lengthy discussion of the S-8 District points to the complexity and contention among both competing and incompatible uses. At least, a clearer distinction (and noted corrections to intended allowed uses) must be made between what uses are appropriate for the East bank and the West bank. The present single Use Table with multiple footnotes has not clarified the concerns and still contains inconsistencies that contrast allowed uses depending on type, and not location. The suggestion to split the East and West into two tables and the concerns expressed that the complexities and contention really call for two districts needs further examination.
If you've properties or uses along Tacoma's shorelines and wish to participate in the Chamber's Shorelines Task Force, give us a line.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Grading Small Business Success

How well are small businesses performing? We know that small business owners face challenges to create and operate their businesses successfully. Big companies have numbers of employees to manage the functions that the small business owner does alone or with a very few others.

So what are the biggest challenges to small business owners, and how do small businesses across America stack up? The Small Business Success Index (SCSI) has been created to measure performance on six dimensions found most challenging to small businesses and is intended to track small business performance over time.

The 28 question national survey is conducted twice a year and provides individual scores for six dimensions, as well as an overall performance score. The most recent overall score is 75% -- a “C” grade. Although small businesses got better individual grades for workforce (78), customer service, (91) and compliance (law, city and county regulation) (89), they do less well in marketing and innovation (70), capital access (69), and computer technology (75).

Not surprisingly in the digital age, the importance of technology emerges as the primary difference between small businesses struggling or failing and those that are succeeding, as well as capital access, marketing and innovation, workforce, customer service and compliance. Small businesses using more technology tools get higher scores than those who use less – among them online marketing (goods and services offered, ability to order), email capability (and quick response to queries), use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.

The Chamber of Commerce is in preliminary discussions about surveying small businesses within Pierce County – to enable us to identify where small business owners “here” need to focus to become more successful, and to engage in programs to help in the process. Stay tuned.

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

Friday, February 12, 2010

State Revenue (and Economy) Forecast Improves

Just released is the update for the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast:

The national and Washington economic recovery is progressing largely as we expected in November. As a result, our revision to the forecast for the current biennium is a relatively minor $31.5 million increase in the revenue forecast (excluding noneconomic changes). Output has now grown for two consecutive quarters including a 5.7% surge in the fourth quarter of 2009. As in November, we expect positive job growth for both the U.S. and Washington beginning in the current quarter. Though our baseline forecast expects the recovery to continue, significant risks remain. Consumer confidence remains low, credit remains tight, and the housing recovery may falter after the home buyers credit expires. We believe the Washington will outperform the U.S. economy in the recovery thanks to our export orientation and the relative stability of our key basic industries, aerospace and software. . .the forecast is up by $31.5 million. This is the first forecast to extend through the 2011-13 biennium. The General Fund-State forecast for the 2011-13 biennium is $32.2 billion.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Chamber Hosts Shorelines Meetings

Stephen Atkinson, Planner, City of Tacoma, lead for Tacoma's Shorelines Update, has confirmed that he will attend our next meeting to continue the discussion on Tacoma's Shorelines Update. Our previous meeting discussed the S-7 (Schuster Parkway) and S-10 (port-industrial area) districts. That focus should continue. And, we are planning to address the S-8 district (Foss Waterway) as well.

Friday, Feb. 12 19 (Revision)
9:00 a.m.
Chamber offices
950 Pacific Ave., Ste. 300
Tacoma 98402

As a follow-up to the city staff's presentation about the S-8 district to the Planning Commission Wed., Feb. 3, please refer to these links:  PPT and Background/Draft.