Federal Way mayor's ‘state of the city’ address focuses on suburban economic hurdles

'The expectation for services in suburban cities are growing,' said Federal Way Mayor Skip Priest during the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce membership luncheon Feb. 2.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/The Mirror

The local economy is struggling to bounce back from the recession, but Federal Way Mayor Skip Priest is optimistic the city will pull through.

Priest issued his "state of the city" address Wednesday during the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club.

"These are tough times, but there have been tougher times," he said.

Priest stressed what he referred to as the three legs of a successful city: good schools, parks and public safety. To achieve these goals, among other things, requires prosperous businesses and job opportunities.

As the work force moves back into the cities, businesses and jobs are following, Priest said.

Simultaneously, the number of senior citizens and low-income residents living in suburban cities such as Federal Way is growing. Together, these phenomena are putting stress on suburban cities.

"The expectation for services in suburban cities are growing," Priest said.

Priest emphasized the need to stimulate economic activity, especially in Federal Way's downtown core. Partnerships with organizations such as the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce have been beneficial and are necessary, he said. Such partnerships have led to the South Sound Regional Business Incubator and the Cascadia MedTech Association, both efforts to increase jobs and retain businesses in Federal Way.

But more partnerships and economic revitalization are essential, especially downtown, Priest said. A civic center can be a catalyst for more development downtown, he said.

"The civic center discussion is about economic development," Priest said.

Projects such as a civic center will spur activity, and in turn, bring in much-needed revenue sources that can help provide services to residents. The alternative to a revitalized downtown are higher property taxes or less service, Priest said.

Attracting fields of business to Federal Way is also necessary. In the late 1990s, Federal Way was rich with call centers. Many of the jobs these centers once provided were shipped overseas just a few years ago, Priest said. Now, some of them are returning to the United States and to Federal Way. One such example is Affiliated Computer Services, which settled in Federal Way in March 2010 and announced plans to hire more than 600 employees late last year.

In addition to attracting new businesses and industries to Federal Way, residents need to play their part. Shopping local can make a difference. Most people spend 90 percent of their money within roughly 50 miles of their home, Priest said. Residents can make a difference in their community by spending their money within 5 miles of their home, he said.

All of these things and more are needed, Priest said, for Federal Way to remain an enjoyable place to live, work and play.

Check it out

Federal Way Mayor Skip Priest's speech was delivered at the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce's monthly membership luncheon Feb. 2 at Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club. Most of the points covered in Priest's speech can be found in a guest column, published Jan. 15, 2011, in the Federal Way Mirror.

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