Opinion

Better ways to spend $60,000 in Federal Way | Kelly Maloney

As a Federal Way resident and small business owner, I’ve developed a passion for the city and all it has to offer. I recognize, however, there are many negative issues that affect the city’s image.

On the good side, we have a diverse population, water and mountain views, beautiful parks, a variety of businesses, a strong Chamber of Commerce, a mall, a stellar police force, a strong faith-based community, an award-winning school system, and people who care.

The flip side isn’t so pretty. Network news stations seem to highlight every crime in our city, which begs the question: Why? Recent crime statistics show Federal Way’s crime is lower than most of our neighboring cities. Either way, the perception is there’s a lot of crime.

I’ve championed ways to try to change the negative image of the city. I know that those running Federal Way are trying. With budgets cut and city staff being laid off, it’s hard to justify running an image campaign or being pro-active on key issues.

However, despite the potential upfront costs, changing the city’s image will result in economic vitality through job creation, tourism, increased local shopping and less crime.

I’d like to see the city spend the necessary funds on an image campaign, rather than spending it on unnecessary and costly trips to South Korea, such as the one Federal Way City Council member Michael Park, Mayor Linda Kochmar, city economic development director Patrick Doherty, city manager/police chief Brian Wilson and community development services director Greg Fewins are currently on.

The city has budgeted $10,000 for travel expenses for the group, with an additional $50,000 for a marketing event suggested by Park. Their goal is to entice Korean investors to invest in building in Federal Way. In exchange, the investors get green cards to become American citizens.

That’s $60,000 that is now not available for immediate use to enhance Federal Way’s image, help those in need, or do anything else for the residents of Federal Way.

It’s $60,000 that could have saved a city staff employee’s job.

It’s $60,000 that could go toward attracting American organizations to locate their businesses in Federal Way, which would go a long way toward lowering Federal Way’s commercial real estate vacancy rate that currently stands at about 30 percent.

In these times of economic challenges, it’s more important than ever to make a positive impression in order to drive economic development.

If you have suggestions on how the city can positively change its image, please let city council know.

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