Federal Way Chamber focuses on regional business growth

Courtesy of the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce

As part of a regional economic development initiative, the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce shared goals for business growth identified in a report by Ernst & Young (EY) economic advisory services at its June 5 meeting.

Each goal is accompanied by strategies to achieve success.

“We don’t just do studies to sit on a shelf,” said Chamber CEO Rebecca Martin. “All of our studies build and integrate as resources that support business leaders, community stakeholders, and elected officials, as they develop data-driven strategies for economic growth.”

Key research findings for the South Sound footprint note a lack of anchor employers in primary industries, a labor market not keeping pace with the rising cost of living, higher wage jobs requiring a commute, and a lack of economic identity.

The report suggested three goals to help strengthen the economy. First, expand economic growth by strengthening partnerships, pursuing economic opportunities, and telling the south Sound region’s story. Second, develop career pathways to good jobs for South Sound residents. Third, improve the business climate by addressing community safety.

Martin noted that the report is designed to outline opportunities for a range of stakeholders to adopt and move forward. Of the eight strategies, the Federal Way Chamber has adopted the following.

For goal 1, the Chamber will continue its strategy of celebrating the region’s quality of life advantages, population and cultural diversity, student successes, and other positive stories that strengthen the South Sound’s positioning for investment.

“Storytelling is an intentional focus at the Chamber,” said Martin. “We will continue working to reframe narratives with business positive, future forward, solution-oriented messaging.”

Additionally, the Chamber is working to enhance and expand its retention and expansion efforts existing programs with its best-in-class research. “Our Chamber remains committed to setting an economic baseline to drive strategy,” she said.

The Federal Way Chamber is convening a task force to address the supply chain issues of our regional care sector. On the docket for planning at the Chamber is a market analysis of opportunities for green technology, open spaces, and the circular economy as job creators in the region.

“Education is not an industry silo at our Chamber,” said Martin. In support of the second goal, the Chamber is convening an interactive workforce taskforce to connect talent to jobs, building a talent pipeline for business segments identified for growth. “Our partners in education are preparing the future workforce and its entrepreneurs.”

Martin notes that the Chamber will continue to provide labor market data to support economic development work and plans to expand the scope and delivery of that data for the region are underway.

On the third goal, Martin said community safety was a complex and nuanced issue with stakeholders working to address the challenges. The Chamber plans to continue its resource role, collecting data and providing input on the impact of safety for the business community.

For the purposes of the report, the region is defined geographically to include the cities of Algona, Auburn, Des Moines, Federal Way, Pacific, and portions of Edgewood, Fife, Kent and Milton as well as areas of unincorporated King County.

“At the Chamber, we see the business corridors in this regional footprint as a growth hub,” said Martin. “There is so much potential in a geography that is neither Seattle nor Tacoma, and yet is an economic engine for growth. That is the power of a Chamber.”

Working in partnership with Jobs for South Sound, the regional strategy report is part of a contract with the Washington Department of Commerce. Read the report online at the Chamber’s website at fedwaychamber.com.