Build momentum in Federal Way’s economy | Andy Hobbs

Seattle and Bellevue supply more jobs than employees, and that surplus means everything to a city’s economic vitality.

It’s better to be a money magnet than a money dispenser. Their economic growth and success trickles down to South King County, yet siphons our area’s job and labor pool.

We should not resent Seattle or Bellevue for their roles as the region’s job and population center. What Federal Way can do is think in terms of earning four quarters instead of a dollar.

The goal of economic development is to raise and maintain a high quality of life for citizens. In theory, the more businesses and jobs flourish in Federal Way, the healthier the city’s roads, schools, parks and perks become.

Economic development is one level of the quality of life equation. A multimillion-dollar project proposal is a sexy and obvious answer, but it’s the established businesses that fuel Federal Way’s economic engines. According to the city, existing businesses account for 75 percent of job growth.

Another component of economic development should be referred to as the Boredom Buster. Give the people of Federal Way more reasons to stay here and play. Create a buzz from within the city’s walls. Let the walls vibrate and shake the rest of the county’s curiosity. That’s one way to draw visitors: make the city a happening place.

Here are three examples of Federal Way folks actively seeking a higher quality of life. Each idea caters to a specific audience, but when we add up the ideas, they create momentum akin to an ocean wave. The more force Federal Way builds behind these waves, the harder the city pounds the shore.

Food trucks. Last month, Derrick and Eleanor Ellis parked their Lumpia World Cuisine food truck in Federal Way for a lunch shift. This Federal Way couple tapped into a growing entertainment trend. Some cities, such as Tampa, Fla., form weekly festivals around food trucks.

Veterans memorials. A group of citizens began discussions for building an official veterans monument for Federal Way. The first step of the process is finding a site. Last month, Tyler Stewart planted three trees and installed three stone plaques to honor three Federal Way soldiers who died in the Middle East. The memorial was Stewart’s Eagle Scout project. The world needs more Eagle Scouts like Stewart, who through ingenuity has created a place for the community to bond, not just with other people, but with the site itself.

Indoor gun ranges. An indoor shooting range is in the works from Federal Way Discount Guns. A banner announcing the range is hanging on an empty building on South 324th Street, with a work crew seen bustling in and out the side door. Another local entrepreneur, Robert Piel, announced plans last month to build an indoor shooting range. If and when they open, the gun ranges will be the safest spots in Federal Way. The average gun owner behaves responsibly. Average gun owners in Federal Way, and there are many, must leave their hometown to play with their toys in another city. Gun ranges will give these residents, and gun owners from across the region, a reason to hang out in Federal Way.

Playing on the job

A letter in Friday’s paper (“Do firefighters play more than they work?”) has already stirred up a buzz online. The letter’s author slaps South King Fire and Rescue, based on his perception of the firefighters’ duties.

Readers responded with flamethrowers to scold the letter’s author, dishing out an earful of “the other side.” It’s the price you pay when speaking your mind. As of this writing, that caustic letter is the most-read item on The Mirror’s website. People can’t resist looking at the train wreck.

Fire and rescue service is like an insurance policy. I’m glad it’s there. If my family were in danger, I’d want all sirens blazing their way to my home, pronto.

Firefighters do play recreational games during down time. Every job spends its downtime differently. Did you make a personal phone call, or get a haircut, or take a coffee break, while on the clock this week? Did you step outside for a few smoke breaks? Are you reading this column right now to avoid doing real, meaningful work? At least these firefighters exercise when waiting for the next call to help the public, which surely wants its heroes buff and toned when coming to the rescue.

Every job is worth doing right. Got time to lean, got time to clean.


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