Why does the Greater Federal Way Chamber ask so many questions? Because questions stimulate, provoke, inform and inspire us.
There is a reason the chamber has a Vision 2025 project — if we cannot articulate with specificity what we want our economic future to look like, then we make impulsive decisions blindly. And nobody wants to do business in a dark, uncertain future.
Today’s decisions for economic growth will determine the community we live in 10 years from now. The chamber business leaders have always known this. Ours is a significant legacy — from incubating community programs like Advancing Leadership, Safe City and Communities in Schools, to leading the charge to becoming a city and to establishing a local hospital.
The vision of those business leaders at the chamber brought us to where we are today — a thriving center of commerce in an economic corridor stretching between two working ports. And that forward, selfless thinking continues to drive us toward a more prosperous, inclusive future. As we explore opportunities to develop sustainable economic growth, the chamber is prepared to be bold, to ask questions and to seek accountability.
Now that the Performing Arts and Event Center is open and Sound Transit 3 has passed, what type of businesses do we want to attract to this new downtown core? These two mighty developments each bring with them specific industries that expand business opportunities. However, transit-oriented and arts-based economic development require distinct strategies that would benefit from an integrated, systemic approach in business attraction for this area.
For example, as we look to grow and diversify our regional business base, the chamber does not see light rail as a transportation mechanism to pump people from Federal Way to other cities. Rather, we see it as a way to transport to Federal Way those future employers who may live in Burien, SeaTac, Seattle, Tacoma or even Olympia. In its long-range vision, the chamber sees the future of Federal Way as a hub, a destination for business and commerce that is linked east to west with bus lines and north to south with light rail.
There’s no question the PAEC is a gorgeous, state-of-the-art building to showcase traveling talent. But it also can be a building block in a strategy that welcomes the growth of a creative class in Federal Way. An innovation economy, and the workforce it attracts, is enhanced by a range of artistic activity as well as the goods and services produced by and/or in support of it. With a strategic mix of business, infrastructure and incentives, the chamber easily envisions a creative chain of economic value for our community.
For long-term community sustainability, it’s not enough to say we will make money because we have constructed buildings. We must know how we can make money through direct and indirect revenue streams. And that “how” must include addressing the needs and growth potential of our exceptionally diverse business base. As we look to our collective future through economic development, the chamber dares to ask, “Who are we now? What do we want to be? How do we make that happen?”
Working together, we have the courage necessary to find the answers. History shows we always have — no question about it.
Rebecca Martin is the CEO for the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce.