Monday, January 24, 2011

Take Advantage of a “Bonanza” Market Opportunity

There is an extremely large energy development in oil (Williston, North Dakota) that is seeking Pierce County businesses to supply much needed peripheral services/products associated with infrastructure.

Tom Rolfstad, Executive Director for the Williston Economic Development, met with a group of local business leaders last week to speak on the abundant opportunities for our local businesses to share in. Williston is experiencing a huge construction boom resulting from the development of the largest shale oil deposits (in the Bakken formation) currently underway. This translates to the availability of thousands of jobs and concurrently, the need for infrastructure.

According to the Williston Wire, Williston’s building permits for 2010 hit a record of $106.2 million, trouncing the previous year’s record of $44.6 million.

Now here is a market ready-made for you to take advantage of!

You can explore options on the differing business development at the Williston Development foundation’s website, click here.

Read about the recent history of economic growth for Williston here.

Find exclusive news (both current and archived) on what’s happening in Williston on the Williston Wire, click here.

Stay tuned to the Chamber’s Live Wire blog for more information...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sun Shines on Solar Power

The new green economy has managed to produce jobs, disputes over cost benefits as well as a number of interesting facts.

With Los Angeles’ 186 sunny days per year, it’s not surprising California ranks as the number one state for solar projects. It appears the catalyst for the large number of solar projects in California can be attributed to the tax breaks and rebates offered to residents and businesses that implement solar projects.

Other states across the country ranging from the south to northeast have joined the solar revolution, but one that stands out for its lack of sunshine and high ranking is New Jersey. Second only to California in the amount of megawatts produced despite its significantly lower rate of sunshine, it appears New Jersey, like California has been successful in solar power production because of state government incentives.

For more information, check out this article.

Electronic Billboards May Come to Tacoma

The City of Tacoma Planning Commission is considering revisions to the City’s billboard regulations.
Proposed changes would:

1. Allow for the installation of digital billboards in exchange for the removal of a substantial number of static billboards

2. Revise the allowed height, size, location, and other standards for digital billboards.

The first of multiple opportunities for community input is:
Monday, January 31, 2011 5:00 – 7:00 pm
The Evergreen State College – Tacoma Campus 1201 6th Avenue, Lyceum Hall

As one of the first steps in the process, at this public workshop city staff will describe the proposal, share information about digital billboards, and hear your thoughts on the issues and any important considerations. The workshop will include a short presentation and informal opportunities to talk with the project team about your questions and comments.

Over the next several months the Commission will hold a public hearing before making their recommendation to the City Council, who will make the final decision. The Council is currently scheduled to make its final decision in July.

Additional information, including a project overview, background materials, and the project schedule, is available from on the City’s Planning Division website: (then click on “Billboards”)

For additional questions contact:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Free Small Business Classes in Pierce County

People will learn valuable information about start up, finance and legal aspects of small business during free presentations at Pierce County Library System, Wednesday, Jan. 12 – Thursday, March 31.

Starting Your Business covers business plans and licenses, bank accounts, taxes, insurance, forming a corporation, and developing a checklist for building a solid foundation for a new business.

Financing Your Business includes how to assess financial needs, determine loan eligibility, and find banks and alternative community resources to get the financing needed to start a business.

Legal Aspects of Your Business offers basics about contracts and business agreements, vendor and employee contracts, leases, notes, guarantees, and legal structures including sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation.

Gig Harbor Pierce County Library, 4424 Point Fosdick Drive N.W.
• Starting Your Business, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 10 a.m. – noon
• Financing Your Business, Thursday, Feb. 10, 1 – 3 p.m.
• Legal Aspects of Your Business, Tuesday, March 15, 10 a.m. – noon

Lakewood Pierce County Library, 6300 Wildaire Road S.W.
• Starting Your Business, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 10 a.m. – noon
• Financing Your Business, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 10 a.m. – noon
• Legal Aspects of Your Business, Wednesday, March 30, 2 – 4 p.m.

Parkland/Spanaway Pierce County Library, 13718 Pacific Ave. S. • 253-531-4656
• Starting Your Business, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2 – 4 p.m.
• Financing Your Business, Thursday Feb. 17, 2 – 4 p.m.
• Legal Aspects of Your Business, Tuesday, March 22, 2 – 4 p.m.

South Hill Pierce County Library, 15420 Meridian E. • 253-848-8686
• Starting Your Business, Monday, Jan. 31, 1 – 3 p.m.
• Financing Your Business, Thursday, Feb. 3, 2 – 4 p.m.
• Legal Aspects of Your Business, Thursday, March 31, 10 a.m. – noon

Class instructor Sharon Barber has more than 25 years of experience in small business management. She was instrumental in establishing and developing the Small Business Administration’s Tacoma Business Assistance Center, and the Clover Park Center for Business Development in Lakewood. She currently serves as the Director of Economic Development, Metropolitan Development Council in Tacoma, serving Pierce County.

Check the Pierce County Library's calendar for more business classes offered later this year.

The following organizations provided funding for the Library’s Job and Business Centers and resources:

• FRIENDS of Lakewood Library
• Lucky Seven Foundation
• The Norcliffe Foundation
• Paul G. Allen Family Foundation
• Pierce County Library Foundation
• Renew Washington grant program, administered by the Washington state Library and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services
• WorkForce-Central, an investor

Shorelines and Public Access Powers

The Chamber’s Shorelines Task Force received an overview briefing about Shorelines and the Public Access powers of governments at their regular meeting Wednesday.

This presentation preceded many of these same members' firms attendance at a following Tacoma Planning Commission’s meeting where staff (planners and city attorney) were to present their response to public comments about public access across private industrial waterfront properties.

Sandy Mackie, Perkins Coie, at the behest of Chamber member Schnitzer Steel, gave an insightful presentation to attendees, then extended to the Chamber the opportunity to post that in a publicly accessible file.

Public Access across private property has become a contentious issue in Tacoma’s Shoreline Master Program Update. Water-dependent business and support industries have developed a consensus position opposing public access or paying a fee-in-lieu of maintaining safety and security of private industrial properties.  A forthcoming blog will attempt to review the City staffs’ position on this issue.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

SBA Has New Website Services

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) unveiled a new website, featuring a handy personalization tool that allows users to receive customized information for their small businesses.

The tool, called SBA Direct, generates business-specific information on several factors including business type and geography.

Visit, try it out, let us know what you think of it.

Tacoma Reviews Sign/Billboard Ordinance

The City of Tacoma Planning Commission is looking at the sign and billboard ordinance (Title 13, pg. 169) in their jurisdiction with potential changes to occur in the next few months, which could have dramatic impacts on some businesses.

If you are interested in learning more about this issue or would like to participate in the Chamber’s ad hoc committee, please contact Gary Brackett and/or Chelsea Levy, both at 253.627.2175.

Additional information can be found at Tacoma Weekly and the City of Tacoma website.

Water Quality for Coffee Drinkers

Free coasters and coffee sleeves with water quality messages are available to restaurants, pubs, coffee shops and coffee stands throughout Pierce County to last for one week.

Pierce County Public Works and Utilities, Surface Water Management Division, received a grant to promote water quality awareness among the general public. The grant from the Puget Sound Partnership is for a group of jurisdictions and non-governmental agencies with interests in water quality.

They are still looking for businesses willing to participate. Businesses can sign up between now and January 31, 2011, by contacting Tiffany O'Dell or (253) 798-2468.  If you are or you know of businesses that might be willing to participate, a promotional flyer with examples of the coaster designs is available. Please contact her and she will be happy to pass on the flyer and examples.

They hope to have at least 30 participating businesses located throughout Pierce County. This effort will be coordinated with other local efforts including a Puget Sound Starts Here night at the Rainiers.

More information to come on other events!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Walsh Construction Gets Tahoma Business Environmental Award

Walsh Construction Company's (r) Ron Ward, Senior Project Manager-Salishan and (c) Derek Johnson, Superintendent-Salishan Project happily receive the 2010 Tahoma Business Environmental Award from sponsor (l) Tom Taylor, Taylor-Thomason Insurance.

The Chamber annually recognizes entrepreneurial efforts that meet a high standard of excellence for environmental, preservation and protection accomplishments through its Tahoma Business Environmental Award.

This morning the 8th annual award was presented by award sponsor Tom Taylor, Taylor-Thomason Insurance, to Don Ward, Senior Project Manager, Walsh Construction Company in the Chamber’s Simpson Community Room.

Through Walsh Construction’s leadership and initiative, the Tacoma Housing Authority’s (THA) Salishan redevelopment in Tacoma is the first federal Hope IV project to achieve a LEED Platinum rating in the country.

When Washington State issued a mandate that entities receiving funding awards from its Housing Trust Fund build projects more sustainably, Walsh Construction saw the potential in Salishan 7 and looked beyond what was required by the state. Walsh Construction informed the THA of the opportunities and how to achieve the highest standard – platinum.

Walsh conducted exploratory work in the design phase with help from the Berger Partnership PS, McGranahan Architects and the project’s sustainability consultant O’Brien & Company. From this, Walsh Construction determined the project as designed did not meet the lowest LEED rating of Certified.

From Walsh Construction’s research and analysis, THA chose to pursue the most challenging goal: LEED for Homes Platinum.

Walsh Construction has deservedly been acknowledged with the Tahoma Business Environmental Award by having invested money and thought into ways that would improve the environmental performance of their overall operations and thus, impacting our community’s quality of life.

Visit our website for more information on Walsh Construction’s environmental achievements.