Opinion

Hidden rewards of grant money in Federal Way | Andy Hobbs

Federal Way has roughly $700,000 to spend on job-generating projects, thanks to Community Development Block Grants. It will be money well-spent.

Which of the five proposals for a chunk of that money will actually create the most jobs?

The applicant with the largest request is Orion Industries. The Federal Way company specializes in aerospace products, including aircraft parts for Boeing. Orion also finds permanent jobs for people with disabilities or personal troubles.

Orion is exploring opportunities with the Cascadia MedTech Association, whose main goal is to bring medical device businesses and their talent to Federal Way. Companies like Orion can benefit from manufacturing deals created by these medical device businesses. More manufacturing means more jobs.

This column is not intended to dismiss the other proposals for city grant money. Indeed, applicants such as Dynamic Family Services, Highline Community College and the South Sound Regional Business Incubator play key roles in the region’s quality of life.

However, the city must supplement the service economy — a hallmark of life in industrialized nations — with more manufacturing. We love our health care professionals and educators, but we cannot export a service with the same impact of exporting a product built in Federal Way. The more Federal Way exports, the more service jobs will grow to support those exporting businesses.

And if there’s a “perfect storm” scenario for Federal Way’s economy, then Cascadia and Orion could find themselves in the eye of a welcome hurricane.

Cascadia helps these medical device businesses establish themselves from the get-go — ready to profit, reinvest and grow. If the idea pans out, and Cascadia can lure these businesses to build their medical devices in Federal Way, then that means more manufacturing and service jobs within the city’s borders. That means more employees living and shopping in Federal Way. That means everyone wins.

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