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Federal Way's goals for 2010: Economic development, foreign investment | State of the City

Federal Way Mayor Linda Kochmar delivers her “State of the City” address Feb. 3 at Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club during the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce luncheon. - Andy Hobbs/The Mirror
Federal Way Mayor Linda Kochmar delivers her “State of the City” address Feb. 3 at Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club during the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/The Mirror

Economic development and foreign-led investment rank among Federal Way’s top goals in 2010 and beyond.

At the annual State of the City address Feb. 3, Federal Way Mayor Linda Kochmar said the city will focus on growing its tax base by attracting more companies and families.

Although the city’s budget is balanced through 2014 and will maintain all services, tax revenue issues will eventually hinder economic development in Federal Way. A business incubator, medical device incubator and World Sandcastle Championship are three areas the city hopes will generate economic growth, she said.

The city will use LIFT and grant funding to bolster downtown as well as aid first-time homebuyers. Federal Way will also focus on projects led by foreign investors, including the proposed downtown Symphony high-rises, she said.

“We’re a government in transition,” said Kochmar, referring to Federal Way’s first mayoral election in November. Kochmar is the city’s last appointed mayor under the current city manager-council form of government. She urged residents to think of Federal Way as a corporation in which they are all shareholders, making sure the next mayor or “CEO” is a qualified leader. The next mayor needs to a good sense of ethics, she said: “If you have ethics at the top, it will permeate down through the organization.”

Kochmar encouraged the community to continue reaching out to one another. When seeking to “change hearts” in Federal Way, she said, “the most important heart you change is your own.”

2009 highlights

Kochmar highlighted several city accomplishments from 2009:

• Economic development including the Hampton Inn under construction; the Korean Women’s Association mixed-use low-income senior housing project; state funding for Federal Way Village (at 336th Street and Pacific Highway South); and increased potential for foreign investment through programs including a green card deal for investors who spend at least $1 million in Federal Way. She also praised a move toward new height allowances for buildings, specifically referencing the proposed Symphony high-rise project: “We want to grow our city up, not out.”

• The planned 2011 opening of SCORE, a regional jail in which Federal Way has 17 percent ownership. “Our jail costs are up,” she said. “We can’t be beholden to King County or anybody else.”

• Automated license plate readers allowed Federal Way police to run more than 35,000 license plates, leading to the recovery of six stolen vehicles and one stolen gun.

• Kochmar said the Safe City program has been successful. The program involves surveillance cameras monitoring Federal Way’s downtown core in an attempt to aid police and reduce crime. “If you go in our downtown, you’re on camera,” she said.

• She lauded a Federal Way-generated lookalike weapons bill, which allows stricter punishment for suspects using firearms replicas during run-ins with law enforcement. She also praised the police department’s new bike patrol unit for downtown.

• She noted a series of road projects, including three for Pacific Highway South that have resulted in a wider and smoother road with landscaped medians.

• The Historical Society of Federal Way used a $30,000 grant to help renovate its new home at the Steel Lake Annex on South 312th Street.

• The Federal Way Community Center has vamped up its marketing approach with a new slogan (www.itallhappenshere.org) and the Splash Cafe, along with hosting the Golden Games for seniors. The city also purchased an emergency power generator for the community center, which serves as a heat station during cold weather and a cooling station during hot weather.

• Federal Way officials earned praise from FEMA during emergency management training in Maryland. Officials from the city, South King Fire and Rescue, Lakehaven Utility District and Federal Way schools participated.

• “Staff morale has certainly improved,” said Kochmar about the Federal Way Municipal Court. She credited the court’s changed image to new management, improved relations and innovative ideas.

• FWTV’s “Connections” program (on Channel 21) and host Natalie Rees continue to win Telly Awards for government programming.

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