What jobs? Why jobs? | Business column

Rebecca Martin

We all know that small business accounts for 80 percent of job creation in this country. In a marketplace that continuously evolves to reach local and global consumers, how do we define success when we talk about jobs?

Small to mid-size companies are the foundation of our business base in Federal Way. In fact, 90 percent of the business licenses issued at the city are for companies with 10 employees or less. Clearly, the potential for job growth within our economic footprint is strong.

At the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, we ask: “What kind of family-sustaining jobs are we seeking? Why would a business be interested in offering jobs here? Where will employees live and work?”

The answers to these questions can drive business attraction, retention and expansion efforts. But, more importantly, we first must ask ourselves, “How do we know which jobs will work for our community?”

Economic growth must come from within the business community as it works in partnership with other stakeholders to develop strategies for job creation.

According to the “Brookings Report, Remaking Economic Development,” while the process of developing business has the potential to influence growth through action and investment, it requires a broader, more inclusive view of the economic landscape. In other words, are the right stakeholders at the table?

Business builds business. At its heart, economic development is, like the chamber itself, an ecosystem that seeks engagement with different markets – and the businesses within them — to create growth.

Economic ecosystems are business clusters that provide products, goods and services within their industry or geographic network. For the chamber, economic development can prioritize building ecosystems for core industries. This is done, in part, by identifying and supporting our established and emerging business clusters.

The chamber, for example, appreciates the city working with the first boutique winery in Federal Way — an industry already thriving in communities that surround us. One winery opens every day in Washington — this industry is an economic engine throughout the state. And with work underway at the city to address codes, zoning and permitting, this business ecosystem has the potential to introduce an industry cluster that includes wineries, microbreweries and distilleries, all of which will support tourism while creating new jobs here in Federal Way.

Building on industry clusters, our business climate will better enable small businesses to start and grow even as it supports the globally competitive firms located along our business corridor.

So now, I ask you, what do we have to do to get a chocolatier?

Rebecca Martin is the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce CEO. She can be reached at martin@federalwaychamber.com.

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