Data can be used as a powerful tool to address the business resiliency of a community. The Greater Federal Way Chamber issued an Economic Equity Assessment to better understand economic conditions such as the distribution of industry, small business clusters, gender and racial disparities, and the unique challenges faced by businesses within their sectors.
Data, however, will only tell part of the story. The statistics in the Equity Assessment show that disparities exist, and while data alone does not tell us how we can address disparities, it can serve as a tool to direct future conversations in the community.
“At the Chamber, we work to enhance growth by identifying areas in which Federal Way business is performing well and others where the local economy and specific populations face persistent challenges,” said Chamber CEO Rebecca Martin, CCE. “How do we enhance growth for strong business clusters? What are the barriers to business success?”
The data in the Economic Equity Assessment supports the message the Federal Way Chamber has been sharing for the past several years. Our regional economy cannot allow its rich, multicultural businesses to function in silos. Stronger, more strategic connection and investment in BIPOC businesses is a model for inclusive business growth.
Economic equity dynamics look at outcomes within a community, not overall topline numbers. Examining disparities by gender, race and geographic area can provide insights about barriers to economic opportunity, who to engage in outreach efforts, and how to strategically address challenges.
Based on analysis of data, focus areas to explore for economic growth include a range of possibilities.
- Diversifying the economic base to include more primary employers who sell goods and services outside of the Federal Way community.
- Addressing disparities in homeownership which provides security and can be leveraged to form businesses and grow wealth.
- Increasing labor force participation and business ownership by women, who are underrepresented in higher-paying occupations, despite equal education levels.
- Supporting businesses owned by people of color.
- Small businesses of every race and gender could benefit from technical assistance, mentorship and other resources aimed at entrepreneurs and small, growth stage business.
The data supports the Chamber’s continuing multiyear effort to secure funding for a business accelerator, added Martin. In 2022, Martin was one of 21 Chamber CEOs from 17 states selected for the national Fellowship for Inclusive Economic Growth by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.
“To collectively build a path to the power of owning a business, we need to create a business climate that offers access to economic opportunity for small business ownership of every size, race, and gender,” she said. “This is what inclusivity means to the Greater Federal Way Chamber.”
The Equity Assessment data for the Federal Way area represents zip codes that include neighboring municipalities and parts of unincorporated King County. In other circumstances, conditions for the Federal Way area are benchmarked to King County, the state of Washington, and the United States