By Rebecca Martin,
Greater Federal Way
Chamber of Commerce CEO
Are We Living Up to Our Economic Potential?
How do we build prosperity in Federal Way? It’s a question business owners ask themselves as they review the bottom line and consider growth opportunities for their companies.
Opinions on what moves us forward are as diverse as our businesses; however, mutual experiences can define shared challenges that emerge as recurring patterns. To identify those patterns, the Chamber convened economic visioning sessions to clarify themes from business leaders in a SWOT analysis conducted over the past four months.
To provide an outside perspective, the sessions which were facilitated by a team from Ernst & Young (EY), a global firm with extensive experience in economic development. The process included focus groups and interviews with more than 75 businesses across the demographic range of Federal Way.
Additionally, EY provided supplemental data collected by EY to qualify observations made by stakeholders. To ensure the thematic patterns emerged organically, EY facilitated honest, open discussions of strengths and challenges — no leading questions. And the patterns were clear.
Weaknesses: Limited Options
Supplemental research supported the challenges noted by businesses as Federal Way being less prosperous than the region due to limited options for both employers and the workforce. Weaknesses identified include: exporting talent, slow growth in population and jobs, low industry diversity, limited career pathways, and lack of a downtown core.
A poor business reputation was identified as a threat to economic development. Particularly noted were permitting challenges, high crime, limited business resources, inequitable outreach to diverse businesses and a lack of strategic focus.
Strengths: A Region of Opportunity
Businesses see Federal Way and its surrounding region as an area of economic potential, noting it appears to be on the cusp of economic change. Strengths that emerged as patterns include geographic location, racial and ethnic diversity, educational anchors, relative affordability, and a quality of life.
Business owners want to see Federal Way thrive. Stakeholders shared some common themes for achieving that vision. These opportunities include building a thriving base of primary jobs, becoming an employment destination, supporting diverse people and businesses, and developing a dynamic downtown.
A Business Narrative for Success
The Economic Visioning Report is a business narrative based on real-world strengths and weaknesses, identifying real threats and obstacles to economic success. Importantly, it also showcases what our business leaders see as viable opportunities for inclusive business growth.
At the Chamber, this information is used to develop programming, resources, and initiatives to enhance opportunities in this new, post-pandemic business climate. Chamber resources provide a range of economic data online at fedwaychamber.com/economic-development.
The Chamber’s Economic Visioning Report is available online at fedwaychamber.com/advocacy.