Business

Execs: Federal Way can benefit from regional gains

Mirror staff

Three high-ranking executives of business, the financial industry and local government peered into a crystal ball during the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce’s Economomic Forecast Breakfast Jan. 22 at Weyerhaueser King County Aquatic Center.

The trio of speakers for the event attended by business, civic and government leaders were Wally Costello, senior vice president of Quadrant Corp.; Mic Dinsmore, chief executive officer of the Port of Seattle; and Melanie Dressel, president of Columbia Bank.

Costello said the commercial real estate market in 2002 lacked “a big economic engine to pull the market out of where it was at the end of 2001. Therefore, the market today looks similar to a year ago.” A “major change” in 2003 appears unlikely, he said.

For homeowners, the economic outlook is good. “If you bought a house a year ago, it is worth more today,” Costello said.

Home prices keep climbing each year and home sales, stimulated by favorable interest rates, also continue to rise, he noted.

Tying commercial and residential real estate together, Costello said “we should be looking for ways to support housing in Federal Way, because the more housing choices that are available in close proximity to Federal Way, the better the chances to attract” major employers.

Costello, who takes over next month as chairman of the King County Economic Development Council, said economic gains in neighboring communities, such as when Safeway announced a major new facility last year in Auburn, can help add residents and shoppers to Federal Way.

“When any part of our economic region experiences success, we all benefit,” he said.

Dinsmore heads the Port of Seattle. As a public enterprise, the port stimulates business activity to create long-term economic benefits in King County, he said.

The economic impact of cruise ship activity alone (75 sailings last year, more than 100 expected this year) amounted to $750,000 for the local economy, plus 600 new jobs that will be created with a new cruise facility opening next spring.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the 18th-busiest airport in the U.S. despite drops in passenger and operations volumes last year, supports 42,000 jobs.

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