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Stimulus Report

The jobs are coming, right?

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Remember that Pierce County Economic Stimulus Report? The one that was actually more of a plan? You know, it was requested and commissioned by the Pierce County Council last year to the chagrin of democrats like Tim Farrell and Calvin Goings, who, at the time, preferred action to studies? It was full of recommendations presented to the council by the Economic Development Division in October and quickly endorsed by a unanimous vote. It was chock full of suggestions for improving the dollars-and-cents-related predicament Pierce County finds itself in — suggestions like reviewing the timing and fee structure that developments in Pierce County pay, reviewing the timing of traffic impact fees to allow more lots to come to market, consolidating development codes, increasing workforce training, and establishing an economic development fund.

Yeah, so how’s that been going, one might be tempted to ask. Since the recommendations of the EDD were formally endorsed by the Pierce County Council in early October, nearly four months ago, does that mean Pierce County is well on its way to recovery now?

Probably not.

But that’s not to say we’re not headed in the right direction. Of course, it’s also not to say we are — it’s just too early to tell. And naturally it depends on whom you ask.

Tuesday, Feb. 3, the Pierce County Council’s Economic and Infrastructure Development Committee, which is chaired by Republican Shawn Bunney, heard an update designed to provide insight about what tools the county is using to create jobs — which, according to a press release that followed shortly after the meeting, is the Council’s number one priority for 2009.

“We have to increase the number of good-paying jobs so we can get back to bringing prosperity to the families of Pierce County,” Bunney is quoted as saying in the release.

Shocking, I know. You can always count on politicians and the council to go out on a limb.

Along with clarifying county codes for businesses often left to wonder what the hell they’re actually supposed to do, Bunney suggests in the release that sending the right message to prospective entrepreneurs in Pierce County is important.

"Our rules have to be user friendly not only to keep us competitive in terms of business recruitment and relocation, but also so the moms-and-pops will know that we are open for business in Pierce County," Bunney says in the release.

That’s all well and good, of course, but the question remains — is the Pierce County Council Economic Stimulus Plan creating jobs yet, and if (as you’ll be told if you ask the right people) it’s too early to tell, when can real people in Pierce County expect to start seeing positive results?

“I can tell you from my perspective that the extension of development permits was a big deal in the development community,” says Brad Chatfield, the Pierce County Council’s communications legislative analyst, of the first steps taken by the council at the recommendation of the EDD last December. Many building permits were extended to prevent possible financial losses for developers, banks and investors.

However, Chatfield went on to say, “(The permit extension) meant more to builders than it did for creating jobs.”

Eventually, though, the jobs will come. Right?

After all, it’s the council’s number one priority for 2009

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