Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Large Scale Retail Recommendations Head to Council

On January 31st at 5:30PM, the Tacoma City Council will hold a public hearing on new regulations governing large scale retail uses.  These new regulations limit the size of developments and require those certain developments to hold a community meeting prior to submittal - something virtually unheard of.

While the Chamber appreciates the City's desire to engage the community on development issues, the new process created seems to be specifically designed to stymie potential projects regardless of their consistency with the underlying regulations.  The process creates more hoops for retail developments to jump through than virtually any other type of development in Tacoma. 

As long as Tacoma continues to target certain business or business sectors with additional taxes, regulations, or moratoriums, the City will have a hard time convincing the community that it is truly "open for business."

Friday, January 27, 2012

Seeking Business Community Representatives for SWAC Advisory Committee

The Pierce County Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) has two openings for representatives from the business community. The SWAC meets at least quarterly and helps shape local recycling and waste reduction programs. In 2012 the Pierce County Solid Waste Division is focusing on improving single- and multi-family recycling programs, increasing business recycling opportunities, and completing a food waste Best Management Practices project. The advisory committee is an integral component in the success of these projects.

Toward the end of the year the SWAC will help create the framework for future programs when work begins on updating the comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan. Membership would begin in April, 2012.

To learn more about the SWAC and how to apply for membership, visit their website (click here) or call (253) 798-2179.

Monday, January 23, 2012

"On the Way to Being Business Basic Savvy": Sound Business- A Practical Business Development Series Testimonial

The Chamber’s Sound Business- A Practical Business Development Series began with a bout of snow and a successful first “Business Basics 101” course. Instructors Nick Malden, from Score, and Cheri Pieterman, with Key Bank, were both personable and well versed in their subject matter. Despite the inclement weather, they graciously taught the class in an abridged version with additional personalized attention.

The class was focused on creating a thorough business plan that would lead to a productive, goal-oriented structure for any business. The class began in lecture form, with room for discussion and print-offs of the information provided during the class for future reference and note taking, both of which were effective tactics for a comprehensive learning experience.
Nick and Cheri were able to connect the importance of a strong business plan to each learner’s individual situation. One attendee, Delonna Kaiser, a Human Resource staffing professional establishing both a LLC and Non-Profit titled "Threads", commended Malden when she was asked what she thought of the program. “He provided a pragmatic/dimensional guide to planning an achievable business while ensuring his guidance was focused on the specific need(s) of the participant.” Ms. Kaiser also commented that, “The tone of the entire program was collaborative, well planned and the event was executed with concern for all attendees’ well being.”

I personally found Sound Business Series to be a great experience and would strongly recommend the program to anyone looking to build their business knowledge and strategies. You can find more information about upcoming classes here.

By Livey Beha, Chamber Intern

Business Assistance with Weather Disaster

The recent storm has very likely impacted our County’s business community.

Pierce County Economic Development Dept. is trying to assess the amount of damage.  If a specific threshold is reached at the county level, and also at the state level, certain federal programs may be made available to help assist the region recover. 

Please complete  this damage assessment form to tell them about damage your business incurred.  This is NOT an application for funds or a loan.  It is meant only to determine how much damage the County’s business community suffered.

Please call if you have any questions.  Completed forms should be emailed to Hans Kueck, Economic Development Specialist at hkueck@co.pierce.wa.us

Friday, January 20, 2012

Winter Storm Damage?

The Pierce County Emergency Operations Center today will begin collecting damage information from homeowners and business owners affected by this week's winter storm.

Residents and business owners in Pierce County that suffered damage should call the Pierce County Damage Assessment Center at (866) 798-6363 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Callers should have the following information available:

• Name and address of affected property
• Contact information (cell phone, relatives phone number, "new" mailing address)
• Type of insurance
• A description of damage, even if uninsured
• A personal estimate of uninsured losses
• Estimates of the fair market value of the damaged home or business (it is not necessary at this point for property owners to have a contractor's estimate)

The findings from this assessment will be used by the Governor to request a possible disaster declaration and federal disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The process could take up to a couple of weeks or more. FEMA disaster assistance, if and when it becomes available, only covers uninsured losses.

Visit Pierce County's blog for up to date emergency information.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

US Chamber NW Office on FB

The U.S. Chamber’s NW Region office has a NEW Facebook homepage.

Please go to your facebook page- personal and chamber and "Like" the new Northwest Regional U.S. Chamber homepage.

If you are unable to access the link above, please go to: http://www.facebook.com/ and search for "U.S. Chamber of Commerce Northwest Regional Office." This will be a primary source for information from both Washington DC and our region on what is going on at the U.S. Chamber. Thank you for your help and let me know if there is information you would like added in the future!

The resident executive: Chris Strow, Executive Director

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Attainment Plan Focused on Causes

The Chamber, as you may recall, was very active during the formation of the (Tacoma-Pierce County metro) nonattainment area designation for PM2.5, a regulatory requirement of the federal Clean Air Act, under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

We opposed the broad boundaries suggested by Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) then, as the exceedance was based on a single monitor at So. L Street and was clearly caused by residential wood smoke from fireplaces and wood stoves.  The tideflats monitor had not and has not yet (unless during the recent burn bans) exceeded the tolerances.  While the area boundaries set are larger than we desired, we were successful in getting Northeast Tacoma and Joint Base Lewis-McChord excluded. 

The new attainment plan focuses the effort where it must be – on residential wood stoves.  The EPA allows only 6% of achievable improvements to come from "education."  State legislation exempts fireplaces from any regulatory efforts. Provisions in the plan call for assistance to those with low-income.  And, the plan recognizes the tremendous earlier contributions and continuing standards and improvements applied to industry and cars.  

If you shut down the port, you could not achieve attainment.

The Chamber, represented by Tom Pierson, Pres./CEO and Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH, Director, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department recently wrote, and was published in The News Tribune, a guest editorial explaining  the necessity of local initiative to solve our air quality challenges ourselves.

From the perspective of business and the economy, we know that a non-attainment designation under the Clean Air Act carries serious repercussions including the loss of federal highway funding and the loss of economic development opportunities.

Nonattainment can hinder economic development and tourism in the region. In the nonattainment area, there are stricter requirements on large industries seeking to expand and on new large businesses interested in moving to the area compared to the requirements in an attainment area. New or expanded large industries would be required to better control fine particle pollution than in an attainment area and any increase in emissions would need to be offset by a reduction within the nonattainment area. These factors can prompt businesses to locate their operations elsewhere. Tourism also can be affected by the perception that the area has “dirty” air.

Nonattainment can also have an effect on our transportation system.  Federal transportation funds can be at risk if we don't comply with the air quality requirements.  The region also has to show the pollution from transportation cannot exceed the amount allotted to it in the attainment plan.

Loss of Federal Highway and Transit Funding (Transportation Conformity)*
One year from the date of a non-attainment designation, federally funded highway and transit projects will not be allowed to proceed unless the state demonstrates there will be no increase in emissions associated with the projects.

Boutique Fuels 
Non-attainment areas are subjected to the federal Clean Air Act's reformulated gasoline program, which significantly raises the price of motor vehicle fuels for consumers.

Enhanced Regulatory Oversight 
Once an area is designated as being in nonattainment, EPA has the authority to intervene and revise permitting decisions throughout the state.

Restrictive Permitting Requirements 
New and upgraded facilities in, or near, non-attainment areas are required to install the most effective emissions reduction controls without consideration of cost. Operators of existing facilities may also be required to install more restrictive control technologies than are otherwise required for similar units in areas that are in attainment.

Mandatory Emissions Offsetting 
Prior to permitting the construction of new facilities, a state must offset any emissions increases by achieving reductions at existing facilities.

Loss of Economic Development Opportunities 
The added regulatory and paperwork burdens, as well as expenses associated with constructing new facilities, or expanding existing ones, limit the amount of economic investment in non-attainment communities. 

*Cost of ‘Transportation Conformity' – Nonattainment communities are required to conduct extensive analysis and coordinate transportation and air quality issues. Computer modeling is used to ensure transportation projects do not affect the area’s ability to regain and/or maintain attainment. Transportation conformity requirements are time consuming, costly and include using a mobile emissions ‘budget’ from which to determine the impact transportation projects, once implemented, would have on regional air quality. In nonattainment areas, transportation projects can proceed only if it can be demonstrated that they will not result in increased emissions. Air quality conformity analysis is generally the responsibility of the community’s transportation planning organization.

The final report with its recommendations has officially been released.

The PSCAA has notified the 600+ people who provided input on the draft strategies last fall about the report and recommendations, and alerted them that their Board of Directors will review, discuss and hear input about the recommendations at its January 26 meeting.

Here are links to:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pierce County Economic Index Report Releaesd

This morning, about 550 concerned business and civic leaders heard both the annual Pierce County Economic Index Report and an economic outlook from departing Dr. Arun Raha.

Professors Dr. Bruce Mann and Doug Goodman, University of Puget Sound, presented the 24th annual PCEI, a forecast of the economic well-being of Tacoma-Pierce County.  Their report is available here.

In one sentence:  Expect continuing, although slow economic recovery and growth, better than the national experience.

You are encouraged to share with us your responses to a survey about the Horizons economic forecast event and your company's or personal expectations about the 2012 economic future at this site.

Followers of Twitter can reference #Horizonsforecast and #Horizons.

For those who wish to view the Horizons 2012 economic forecast event as a TV broadcast, Waste Connections has sponsored the program on TV Tacoma.  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 we are found on Channel 21.  On Comcast, TV Tacoma can be seen on Channel 12 in the Tacoma City limits and on Channel 21 in Pierce County.  TV Tacoma is NOT carried on the Comcast system in University Place.

TV Tacoma is also streamed on the Internet a www.tvtacoma.com

Replay times 
Monday, January 23 – 4am, 2pm & 8pm
Tuesday, January 24 – 4am & 11pm
Wednesday, January 25 – 9am & 8pm
Thursday, January 26 – 1pm & 9pm
Friday, January 27 – 2pm & 10pm
Saturday, January 28 – 8am & 5pm
Sunday, January 29 – 1am, 3pm & 8pm
Monday, January 30 – 4am, 2pm & 8pm
Tuesday, January 31 – 4am & 11pm

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chamber Partners Up With Tacoma School of the Arts Internship Program

You may have noticed a new contributor on the Chamber’s blogs, The Live Wire and the BIA blog. Well, that’s me, Livey Beha, a student at Tacoma School of the Arts (SOTA). As a junior in high school at SOTA, which is right here in the heart of downtown Tacoma, I am truly ecstatic and honored to be able to join the Chamber for the month of January as a short-term intern. I am looking forward to learning about the programs and events offered through the Chamber to support the local economy and community.

The SOTA internship program is a chance for high school students to gain a new perspective of occupations they may be interested in pursuing following the completion of their educational careers. I see the internship partnership between the Chamber and SOTA as an opportunity for me as a student to gain knowledge of and contribute to the Chamber and the South Puget Sound community in a unique and positive approach.

If your business is interested in mentoring and working with a Tacoma School of the Arts intern as apart of “The Next Move” program, you can find more information here.

Information on job and internship opportunities at the Tacoma-Pierce Chamber can be found here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Upcoming 2012 Regular Legislative Session - What's in Store

What is in store for the upcoming 2012 Session of the Washington State Legislature can be summed up in just two words – budget deficit.

How many cuts and where? Are new taxes (and/or a new tax package heading to the voters) on the table to help solve the problem? What are the State’s top budgetary priorities? These will be the questions on most everyone’s mind.

The 2011-2013 biennial budget that was adopted earlier this year by the Legislature totaled $32.2 billion and took effect July 1, 2011. Since then however, revenue projections fell to $30.5 billion in mid-September. And an additional $122 million revenue shortfall was added by the most recent forecast, bringing the total revenue projection to $30.4 billion.

Governor Gregoire put forth her first recommended cuts in October. The Governor released her revised proposed budget based upon the November revenue forecast and the caseload changes. They can be found at this link. She worked with agency directors to identify expenditure reductions in addition to the 5% and 10% reduction options submitted by agencies last month.

As the Special Session ended in mid-December , legislators cut an estimated $480 Million from the $2 Billion starting point. A summary of these budget changes can be found at this link.

Those who participate in the legislative process will be earnestly looking toward the 60-day 2012 Regular Session, which begins on January 9th to make up the additional deficit of $1.5 Billion. The Special Session in December provided and the Regular Session, which runs from January 9 through March 8, 2012, will provide the Legislature with its opportunity to further respond to the Governor’s proposed budget changes. Legislators will address the estimated $1.5 billion deficit from their points of view and with their priorities in mind.

By Guest Author, Michael Transue, Attorney at Law, Governmental Affairs and Lobbying Services