Opinion

Marysville looks to create jobs, opportunities | GUEST OPINION

The City Council this summer adopted a series of temporary measures with the goal of creating a competitive business climate that we hope will aid our long-term goals of creating more local jobs and opportunities for our residents here in Marysville.

Upfront costs for businesses of all kinds can be a huge factor in determining where they choose to do business, and the prolonged economic downturn has made financing for business ventures and construction projects hard to get. In an anemic economy, the extra cash flow that can be created through these measures give us some local incentives to attract new business and motivate those considering projects to get them going sooner, which would spur local job creation and additional investment in Marysville.

The temporary relief options that are now in place include an industrial pilot program/Living Wage Incentive (LWI) Program with incentives to encourage new industrial construction that creates living wage jobs as well as reduction and deferment of some of the upfront costs that are designed to incentivize new economic activity here in Marysville.

Economic development, and forward-seeking incentives that give Marysville a more competitive edge for attracting and retaining businesses, remains one of mine and the Council’s key priorities. This is another step toward our goal of continuing to foster an innovative and competitive business climate; one that we hope will attract new jobs and private investment.

Much credit is owed to the Planning Commission and Community Development Department staff for workshops and public hearings they conducted between fall 2011 and early 2012, as well as jointly with the City Council.  In reviewing the city’s overall competitiveness with regard to attracting private investment and job growth, the Planning Commissioners held in-depth discussions, and arrived at their recommendations believing that the current economic challenges faced by new businesses and developers warranted additional measures to reduce regulatory burdens and costs.

Compared with most other states, Washington state law does not give local governments like Marysville nearly as many economic development tools, tax-increment financing and other resources to work with, so the onus is on us to be innovative at the local level, turning over every stone to create a more favorable business climate for large as well as small businesses, at a time when the economy is putting a damper on development of new industrial and commercial development in Marysville, and countywide.  I will say, however, that there is only so much that can be done at the local level and at the end of the day our State needs to look at more ways to create a competitive business climate for all of us cities without which we will have an inherent disadvantage against many other states when trying to attract business and jobs.

Living Wage Incentive (LWI) Program

The Living Wage Program is central to the measures we adopted. The City Council, Planning Commission and I believe it is in the public interest to promulgate incentives for industry to create new living wage jobs in the Light Industrial zone of the city. This pilot program is focused on economic growth and job creation by offering reduced impact fee and connection charges in exchange for the creation of living wage jobs, a key priority of City government.

Living wage jobs are defined as paying $18 or more per hour for 2,080 hours per year, as adjusted annually for the Consumer Price Index (CPI). These jobs provide basic household costs of living for a family without the need for government support. Marysville’s economy benefits through increased local commerce and discretionary spending, sales tax revenue and economic growth.

One place where this jobs and economic growth package can help give Marysville a more competitive edge in recruiting new business is in the Smokey Point area. We continue to move forward with creating a regional manufacturing, light industry job center in Smokey Point. The area is master planned with the potential to create up to thousands of jobs in high-tech, other light industry and manufacturing.

City government continues to think “outside of the box” for new ways to compete for jobs and economic investment in our community. Economic growth in our community will also help address our road and other capital project needs that only become more difficult to keep up with in the current economy.

Mayor Jon Nehring can be reached at mayor@marysvillewa.gov or 360-363-8091.

 

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