Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hearing on Large Scale Retail Moratorium

On Tuesday evening, the Tacoma City Council heard from numerous people on the August 30th emergency moratorium prohibiting new applications for retail establishments over 65,000 square feet.  From the outset of the hearing it was clear that large retail establishments are part of the community.

The first commenter noted the convenience of being able to "drive within 15 minutes, get over to Costco or the mall or to Wal-Mart or any number of chain stores or local businesses."  Testimony continued with many people noting the integration of many large businesses into our community.

Unfortunately, there was an implication that those who shop at large retail stores are "bumpkins," as one commenter blatantly put it.  This led to Mayor Strickland reminding the audience that "when we talk about diversity, it can't be based on someone's ideology, but by being truly inclusive as a city...It means people have different habits."

Those supporting the moratorium also seemed to be focused on a proposed development including Wal-Mart.  As the City Attorney noted at the hearing, "the [Wal-Mart] application has been determined complete which triggers vesting.  So to the extent the planning commission process kicks out other regulations, they are likely not to impact this project."

The Chamber continued to advocate for ending the moratorium outright, as previously identified in its letter to the Planning Commission (here).  However, the Chamber also recognized the hard work the Planning Commission put into considering how to refine the moratorium to impact only new and substantially expanded buildings with the Mixed Use Centers - exactly where the testimony supporting the moratorium has been focused.

The Chamber asked the Council to consider the following if the moratorium was truly needed:
-Use the term "building" rather than the undefined "establishment" when talking about the building size.
-Maintain the new building and expansion thresholds of the Planning Commission while also raising the floor to allow buildings up to 100,000sf.
-Keep the moratorium at the original 6-mos.

"Yes on 1183" Promotes Chamber's Endorsement

Click on Image to Enlarge.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Regulations on the Floodplains

Meeting Notice

Propeller Club
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
5:30 Registration and Reception
6:30 Dinner and Program
La Quinta Inn
1425 E. 27th, Tacoma 98421
RSVP:  Frank Morrow, 253-269-7624 or email
RSVP requested by 3:00 p.m., Oct. 25
Price:  $25

Program: Property Owners for Sensible Floodplain Regulation (POSFR)

POSFR advocates for owners of properties in Washington State’s floodplains, representing their economic, legal and political interests in local, state and national forums on issues related to floodplain development and regulation.  

POSFR began in January 2011 as a spontaneous coming together of a small group of volunteers concerned about the imposition of the NFIP Biological Opinion on local jurisdictions without input from those most affected—property owners.  They understood that such regulations would have draconian economic consequences, particularly on the $7 billion of real estate in the Green River Valley.

Immediate Goals:

  1. To bring public attention to the adverse economic impacts that may result from the imposition of overly restrictive development regulations on floodplain properties. 
2.     To engage the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), NOAA-National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA-Fisheries), Washington State, King County, local municipalities, and others to clarify and minimize to the extent appropriate the impact on property and economic development of the Biological Opinion issued by NOAA-Fisheries to FEMA regarding the operation of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in the Puget Sound region. 

  1. To aggressively represent property owners and businesses in the administrative and political debates surrounding the NFIP Biological Opinion and other floodplain issues in order to preserve property rights and the economic viability of properties located in the State’s floodplains. 
  1. To bring legal action as needed on behalf of floodplain property owners.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

FTAs Signing on Friday

On Friday, October 21st, President Obama will sign the Korea, Panama and Colombia Free Trade Agreements and the renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance for workers in the Oval Office before making remarks in the Rose Garden. 

In his remarks, President Obama will underscore that these trade agreements will significantly boost American exports, support tens of thousands of American jobs and protect labor rights, the environment and intellectual property.  President Obama will be joined in the Rose Garden by business and labor leaders as well as workers who will benefit from these bills.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What Business Wants

What does business want in a new Tacoma City Manager?

This question, a prelude to Tacoma’s hunt for a new city manager, was posed at the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee by three Tacoma Councilmembers.

Visiting the committee were Councilmembers Jake Fey, Ryan Mello and Marty Campbell.  They asked Chamber members at the meeting their recommendations for desired characteristics the Tacoma Council should look for in its next City Manager.

Here’s a short recap of suggestions by the Chamber members:

Management Traits

Someone who:
  • considers all the interests of the community.
  • anticipates unintended consequences
  • is adept at management
  • understands customer relations management
  • has ability to build a good team
  • manages the expectations of change
  • understands economic development attraction and retention
  • carries a big picture
  • partners
  • considers good of the whole

Fiscal Perspective

Someone who:
  • recognizes core city responsibilities
  • willingly questions “nice to have”
  • faces the reality of revenue limitations
  • looks at different ways to accomplish tasks
The Councilmembers expressed their intent to hire the new city manager by the end of this year.  In that process, they would focus on what’s desired and look for opportunities to interact with the Chamber and other community groups.

Friday, October 14, 2011

University Place Candidates Talk Business at Chamber's Forum

As part of the Chamber’s University Place Candidates Forum held last night at Curtis High School, candidates for University Place City Council answered business focused questions.

Randy Walden, UP/Fircrest Division Chair, asked the candidates about development, business retention and priorities on the Council.

(l. to r. Kent Keel, Steve Smith, Ken Campbell, Chris Nye, Caroline Belleci, Howard Lee and emcee Randy Walden)

Placing business interests front and center with elected officials is important to the Chamber not only once candidates are elected, but also in determining who to support.

For information on these and other candidates, click here for the Chamber's Pierce County Voter's Guide.

Chamber Recommendations on Ballot Initiatives

The Chamber recommends support for I-1183 and opposition to I-1125 and I-1163.

Initiative 1183 (Concerning Beer, Wine, Spirits): SUPPORT
The Chamber supports Washington State Initiative 1183 proposing to close state liquor stores and sell their assets; license private parties to sell and distribute spirits; set license fees based on sales; regulate licensees; and change regulation of wine distribution.

Initiative 1183 would allow for the direct purchase of wine and liquor from manufacturers. The State would continue to regulate the industry as well as collect a license issuance fee of 17% plus $166 from retailers. In addition, distributor license fees would be collected at a variable rate. The Washington Office of Financial Management estimates State General Fund revenues would increase between $216 and $253 million over six years, not including the sale of existing state liquor stores.

Initiative 1125 (Concerning state expenditures on transportation): OPPOSE
The Chamber opposes Washington State Initiative 1125 proposing to prohibit the use of motor vehicle fund revenue and vehicle toll revenue for non-transportation purposes, and require that road and bridge tolls be set by the legislature and be project specific.

Chamber program Downtown On the Go’s Board of Directors endorses the “No on I-1125” campaign because I-1125 threatens current and planned transportation and transit projects, negatively impacts transportation demand management policies and funding mechanisms, and puts tolling rates in the hands of legislators rather than an rather than an independent commission of transportation experts. These actions threaten programs like Downtown On the Go and its work to ease congestion and improve mobility for all transportation users.

Tolls have been used more frequently by the state to fund a portion of costs for projects since the project is more directly and equitably funded by the users of the projects than other sources like gasoline or motor vehicle taxes.

Some of the projects that this initiative is intended to halt include the Vancouveer to Portland Columbia River Crossing, the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, and the Alaskan Way Viaduct, as well as Pierce County's own completion of SR-167.

By shifting the tolling setting authority from an independent body to the Legislature would increase the cost of bonds. The bonds secured by toll revenue would become prohibitively expensive and would be unprecedented nationally. This would reduce bonding capacity, and the ability to build future projects.

Initiative 1163 (Concerning long-term care workers and services for elderly and disabled people): OPPOSE
The Chamber opposes Washington State Initiative 1163 proposing to reinstate federal background checks, training and other requirements for long-term care workers and providers; and address financial accountability and administrative expenses of the long-term in-home care program.

In 2008, Washington State voters passed a law requiring federal background checks and more than twice as much training for long-term care workers. With the current budget constraints in Olympia, the Legislature suspended implementation of this law to impact workers hired on or after January 1, 2014. This initiative would move the implementation date forward to January 2012. In addition, the measure would require additional performance audits of the state's in-home care program as well as a 10% limitation on the state's expenditures towards administration.

The costs of this measure are estimated at $31.3 million over six years with $18.4 million of that being offset with additional revenue from the federal government. Without additional revenue options, this initiative will require funds to be secured from other sources and/or programs.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

FTAs Passed

The Chamber joins many other proponents of the Korea, Panama and Colombia FTAs in celebrating their passage by both the House and Senate yesterday.

Congressman Adam Smith
“Congress has helped move a balanced trade agenda forward, one that includes Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and the three pending trade agreements.  This builds on the Administration’s continued aggressive enforcement when our trading partners don’t meet their obligations under existing treaties.”

Korean Ambassador Han Duk-soo
“With an overwhelming 278 votes in the House and 83 votes in the Senate, the U.S. Congress passed the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement! This is a true victory for the enduring relationship between the United States and South Korea.”

Eric Schinfield, Pres., Washington Council on International Trade
“As Washingtonians, we should be proud of the almost unanimous support by our state’s Congressional delegation for these FTAs.”

Ted Austell, Co-Chair of the U.S.-Korea FTA Business Coalition
"This ground-breaking agreement is a surefire way of stimulating the U.S. economy by boosting exports and creating high-quality jobs, while facilitating Korean investment in the United States."

William Rhodes, chairman of the U.S.-Korea Business Council and senior advisor to Citi
"Today's action by Congress marks a historical moment in U.S.-Korea relations that will strengthen the bilateral relationship and boost U.S. exports to one of the most dynamic markets in Asia."

Bill Lane, Washington Director for Government Affairs with Caterpillar and co-chair for the Latin America Trade Coalition
“(LATC) applaud(s) today's passage of the U.S.-Colombia and U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreements (TPAs) and praised lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for voting in the interests of jobs and growth at home and stronger alliances in Latin America.

Port of Tacoma E-Port Business Report
"(P)assage of the free trade agreement with Korea is expected to help boost Washington state's economy and create new jobs by immediately opening new access for Washington goods and services in Korea's $1 trillion economy.  South Korea already represents the Port of Tacoma's third-largest international trading partner, accounting for $2.74 billion in annual trade. Exports to South Korea from Washington state grew by 42 percent between 2005 and 2008."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cong. Reichert Leads Pro-FTAs Effort


I am thrilled to help lead a historic effort to advance job-creating free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea to votes on the House floor.

The Ways and Means Committee’s swift action is proof that we are in a race against time – to approve these deals and create 250,000 jobs.  Every day the United States does not implement these free trade agreements is another day American businesses and workers fall behind.

China, Canada, and the EU, are all aggressively moving forward with their own market-opening trade deals.  Approving these trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama is critically important to maintaining competitiveness in the global marketplace.

The United States uses the best workers to make the best products in the world.  We must keep up with our competitors by opening new markets and selling more American goods and services to customers around the world who demand them.  Ninety-five percent of those consumers live outside of our borders.

Now that these agreements have cleared the Committee, I will continue my work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure these jobs measures are sent to the President’s desk as soon as possible.


Guest blogger:   Cong. David Reichert

Washington Trade Conference

Chamber members have the opportunity to attend the Washington Trade Conference at a discounted registration price as a benefit of their membership in the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

USPS Offers Free Direct Mail Workshop

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is offering to local business a GROW YOUR BUSINESS DAY seminar in Tacoma.

The workshop promises to tell businesses about a NEW cost-effective way to promote your business in your area.  They suggest it is an easy way to go door-to-door, saturating a target area with your marketing message by utilizing carrier routes instead of mailing lists.

USPS  believes this will save on lists and printing as there will be no need to rent mailing lists or print specific names and street addresses on your mail pieces.

To reserve a spot, go here.  Space is limited so you are encouraged to register early.

Date:  Thursday, November 3, 1:00 p.m.
Location:  Tacoma Post Office
                4001 S. Pine Street
                Tacoma 98413

Friday, October 7, 2011

Moratorium Creates Uncertainty and Less Business

The Tacoma Planning Commission has held a public hearing about a City of Tacoma moratorium on large retail development.  This has become repetitious.

The Chamber submitted this letter as its public comments to the Planning Commission, which must make a recommendation back to the City Council on their action.

As detailed below, the Chamber believes such arbitrary actions create uncertainty in the business environment, stifling development underway and sending a negative message to others who may be evaluating Tacoma for investment.

COOs Receive National Attention

Certificates of origin (COO) are receiving national attention.  COOs are basic to international trade - both export and import. 

COO issuance is a role reserved for chambers of commerce.  The basic authority comes via the Kyoto Convention agreement that was signed by President Bush in 2005 (and previous agreements leading up to it, starting with the Geneva Convention in 1923).

American Chamber of Commerce’s (ACCE) Senior Vice President, Chris Mead, guest authored a blog entry  which was posted Sept. 21 on Global Reach, the official blog of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Division.

The blog entry brings to light the dangers of chamber stamp lending (and borrowing) to produce certificates of origin – a violation of international rules.

“In the United States, people frequently handle outgoing certificates of origin with little attention and varying standards, even though U.S. Customs monitor incoming certificates of origin with vigilance.  Since we’re all in the trade boat together, it is critical that we start upgrading our certificate of origin practices to world standards,” says Mead.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber has just adopted an online Certificate of Origin service, eCertify,  fully compliant with international standards.  It is available for members (at a price discount) and non-members.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

All Three FTAs Progress

This afternoon, the House Committee on Ways and Means favorably reported out the three FTA implementing bills. The U.S.-South Korea implementing bill was favorably reported 31-5 with all but five D's voting aye: Stark, Lewis, Doggett, Pascrell and Berkley.

Also, for those following the Latin FTAs, the U.S.-Colombia implementing bill was reported 24-12 with two Democrats voting aye: Kind and Crowley. The U.S.-Panama implementing bill was reported 32-3 with all but three Democrats voting aye: Stark, Lewis and Berkley.

The Administration and Congressional leadership have reached an initial agreement where both the Senate and House will take up the free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea next Wednesday, October 12, 2011 for consideration.

The Tacoma-Pierce Co. Chamber is a member of the U.S.-Korea FTA Business Coalition. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

KorUS for Free Trade

Just moments ago, President Obama formally sent the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement to Capitol Hill for immediate consideration by Congress.

The U.S.-Korea FTA Business Coalition welcomed the announcement by the White House today that it is transmitting the implementing legislation for the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement (KORUS) to Congress for approval.

The U.S.-Korea FTA Business Coalition is a broad-based organization of more than 1,000 U.S. businesses and trade associations, co-chaired by Boeing, Chevron, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Pfizer, that are working together to secure approval by Congress of the U.S.-Korea FTA. The U.S.-Korea Business Council serves as Coalition secretariat.

You too can join in this call for immediate passage of the long-delayed U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, online here.

October 3, 2011

U.S.-Korea FTA Business Coalition
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
1615 H St. NW
Washington, DC


Request for Support of the Free Trade Agreement with the Republic of Korea

Dear Sirs:

I am writing today in support of the proposed Free Trade Agreement with the Republic of Korea.

Our community is economically trade dependent in a state renowned for its international trade efficiency and proficiency. Our Chamber, an “E Award for Export Service” recipient, with a wide diversity of members ranging from shipping to manufacturing, believes the KORUS FTA will bring immediate and tangible benefits to our community.

We have been a consistent supporter of free and fair trade, which offers opportunity to our entrepreneurs, jobs to our workforce and cheaper and more innovative products and services to our citizenry. U.S. goods exports to Korea would increase by $10-11 billion, according to estimates by the U.S. International Trade Commission. Nearly 257,000 Washington jobs are supported by goods exports.

Our export trade with Korea through our Port of Tacoma was $1.1 billion in 2010. Unfortunately, the trend since the high in 2004 has diminished as the KORUS FTA has languished and our trade competitors have made inroads into our market share.

Your prompt action to adopt encourage Congressional adoption of KORUS FTA will be helpful in restoring robustness to our nation’s economy and business to our communities and ports.


Gary D. Brackett, CCR
Manager, Business and Trade
Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber

Jobs Coalition Carries Message on Shorelines

A resoundingly successful Public Hearing on the preliminary Tacoma Shoreline Master Program Update Tuesday, September 27!

The State has mandated all jurisdictions update their Shoreline Master Program (SMP). Tacoma is in the final stages of that mandate. After the public hearing, written comments are accepted. The vote for final adoption is scheduled for November 22.

Written comments may be made to:
The Honorable Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Councilmembers
City of Tacoma
747 Market St., Ste. 1200
Tacoma, WA 98402

Tacoma uses as its zoning plan a series of numbered shoreline districts where different uses and different standards are mandated. There are several issues and preliminary recommendations (adopted by the Tacoma Planning Commission) needing opposition or support.  The Chamber, businesses, labor and environmental interests all made comments directly addressing the issues of jobs, assisting local businesses and workers.

Encapsulated observations:

No one spoke against retaining these provisions of the preliminary shorelines plan:
1. Log storage in Commencement Bay
2. NuStar all into one zone, the S-10 District
3. Allowing existing businesses in S-8 District to expand
4. Public Access requires nexus and proportionality with the burden of proof on the City

No one spoke against these changes to improve the preliminary shorelines plan:
1. S-10 District along the East Foss Peninsula to Murray Morgan Bridge
2. A barrier at E. D Street between S-8 District and M-2 zoning areas, as per earlier Council Resolution

Focus of the opposition, contrary to the best choices of keeping jobs and businesses in Tacoma:
1. Favored moving Sperry Ocean to S-6 from S-7 District, making it a non-conforming use
2. Shoreline walkway from Old Town to Foss Wty.

There were 37 people who commented in support of Chamber positions, in whole or part. There were 17 people (incl. two children), who commented exclusively on the proposal to move Sperry into the S-6 District or for a shoreline walkway from Old Town to the Foss Waterway.  A spot rezone of the Sperry Ocean property, making it a non-conforming use, will impede its ability to secure future financing, permits and leases - significantly harming that business and jeopardizing the jobs there.

Just as at the earlier public hearing before the Planning Commission, NO ONE spoke against any of the Chamber’s and businesses’ preferences in the E. Foss Peninsula (S-8 or S-10 Districts).