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Best of Olympia 2018: City of Lacey

Readers' pick: Best military supporter

Military friendly Lacey City Hall. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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How is it that the City of Lacey winds up in a story about the Best of Olympia?

To answer this question requires some explanation. In a very unofficial poll covering various topics conducted by this weekly publication, Lacey was voted as the Best Military Supporter.

Who would have thought this possible?

Perhaps everyone above the age of 5 in Lacey thought so and voted to show their support of Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Be this as it may, Lacey possesses some serious street cred to claim the title.

"I am so proud that Lacey boasts one of the largest populations of Armed Forces residents in Joint Base Lewis-McChord's region of influence," said Mayor Andy Ryder.

That influence begins with more than 30,000 veterans living in Thurston County; about 6,000 of them live within the city's limits.

For all the efforts the 47,000-plus Lacey residents put into working with the neighboring base of nearly 60,000 employees, the mayor is absolutely right in his statement.

It is no stretch to find numerous examples of Lacey's involvement with JBLM.

The municipality is an active participant in the JBLM Community Connections Program. This curriculum of civic mindfulness engages servicemembers with the local community while enhancing Lacey citizens' understanding of JBLM. This is a win-win scenario as participating soldiers and airmen have provided countless volunteer hours in local community improvement projects.

Ryder captured this thought when he added, "An astonishing fifty percent of our population benefits either directly or indirectly from the military's presence."

Another instance of Lacey's support for its neighbor to the north is its partnership with Thurston County's Economic Development Council.

Funded by federal dollars, the program helps eligible veterans living in the county to plan, open and operate their own businesses in Lacey.

Veterans interested in starting their own businesses can receive free Business Enterprise Start-up Training, or BEST, and veterans who own an existing small business (five or fewer employees) can receive free business training.

These entrepreneurs may be able to apply for grants from the city, which range from $500 to $25,000, to open or expand their businesses within Lacey.

"All of our communities are richer -- both culturally and economically -- because of (the military) presence," continued the mayor.

These samples of responsive citizenship on the part of Lacey are but a smidgen of what city officials and the citizens have done and will continue to do.

Lacey as the Best Military Supporter in an article about the Best of Olympia?


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