Washington

Only in Seattle Economic Development Grants For 19 Neighborhoods

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has announced 19 neighborhood investments totaling $1.6 million through the Only in Seattle initiative.

Only in Seattle grants

Only in Seattle grants

Only in Seattle is a program of the Seattle Office of Economic Development, and serves as a vehicle for the City to make investments in neighborhood business districts.

Mayor Murray said in a statement announcing the grants that “We work with local leaders and business owners on Only in Seattle grants to develop a shared vision that attracts businesses and jobs to neighborhoods across Seattle.”

Seattle Economic Development Director Brian Surratt noted that neighborhood business districts are the economic engines of the city. “The uniqueness of each neighborhood is one of the reasons people love to live here,” said Surratt. “The Only in Seattle initiative helps foster neighborhood businesses by supporting community and community leadership.”

The funding awarded includes Tier 1 Action Plan grant awards for neighborhoods that are developing or are launching comprehensive, multi-year strategies, in which the City is investing more than $1 million this year.

For example, the Ballard Partnership for Smart Growth is getting an $85,000 grant. The Partnership is comprised of more than 50 Ballard business and community leaders who worked together to develop a Smart Growth Framework for Central Ballard. The strategies developed will address critical needs in Ballard as they relate to four key areas – urban design and transportation; business retention and economic development; marketing and promotions; and health, safety and cleanliness.

Tier II funding awards totaling $75,000 for business improvement area consultation were awarded to seven neighborhoods. These business districts will receive consulting services to guide them through the steps from feasibility analysis to the legislative process.

Tier III funding awards to six neighborhoods for a total investment of $30,000 will promote racial equality in Seattle’s business districts. These districts will receive support from the City’s Public Outreach and Engagement Liaisons (POEL) to conduct outreach to under-represented businesses and businesses of color in their districts.

Elizabeth McCoury, President and CEO of The U District Partnership, said in a statement that “We’re excited to engage with business owners of color to help shape the direction of our work and make it more inclusive and representative of the entire business community.”

Tier IV funding awards for two districts totaling $50,000 will support plans to make significant improvements to a building facade along a major commercial corridor in the district. Under Tier V funding, three neighborhoods will receive support from the Office of Arts and Culture (ARTS). This funding is meant to facilitate a connection between artists/arts organizations/cultural organizations and business districts to develop a common vision and plan for enhancing art and culture as a significant identity/component of the neighborhood.

Lastly, Tier VI funding awards totaling $500,000 for eight neighborhoods will support capital improvement projects that enhance the commercial district experience.

For example, a grant of $200,000 will enable the Seattle Department of Transportation to rebuild Pioneer Passage Alley in Pioneer Square to make it walkable and functional for sidewalk cafes and events. Another $100,000 grant for the Chinatown-International District will support a lighting study to determine improvements that will increase safety and visibility in the business district.

Washington Legislative Hearing on Bill to Tie Boeing Tax Incentives to Job Creation

Later today, the Washington State House of Representatives Finance Committee will hold a hearing on a bill that seeks to make several state aerospace tax incentives available to Boeing contingent upon meeting certain job standards.

WA Boeing incentives bill

Photo – wa.gov

The bill (HB 2638) specifically targets the $8.7 billion in tax incentives made available to Boeing as a result of the extension of the Washington aerospace tax preference law.

The expiration of these tax incentives was extended from 2024 to 2040 in a special legislative session in November 2013, and helped Washington secure Boeing’s 777X program in Everett.

HB 2638, reintroduced once again this year in the WA House of Representatives by Rep. June Robinson from Everett, seeks to modify this Washington economic development tax incentive program and tie the tax breaks to jobs.

The bill language requires that “If the firm’s employment is between 4,000 and 5,000 employment positions below the employment baseline, the tax savings from the preferential B&O tax rate and tax credit are reduced in half. Once the employment level is more than 5,000 employment positions below the baseline, the firm is subject to the general default B&O tax rates for manufacturing, wholesaling, and retailing and the B&O tax credit may not be claimed.”

The kicker here is that Boeing’s current employment level in Washington has already dropped by more than 4,000 below the baseline of 83,295 employment positions it had on the day the tax breaks were approved in 2013. So the bill, if signed into law, would automatically reduce Boeing’s tax savings by half, with the possibility of losing the other half if the company relocates or eliminates another 1,000 or so jobs out of Washington.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 751 (IAM 751), which together represent more than 50,000 employees at Boeing around Puget Sound, have been calling on legislators to approve this bill since it was first introduced last year.

At that time, IAM District 751 President Jon Holden said in a release that Boeing has made a series of purposeful decisions to move jobs out of Washington state because that was the easy way for it to meet job creation targets that other states have required to receive their tax incentives.

“Other states did it right. Missouri, Oklahoma, Alabama, and South Carolina already require a specific amount of jobs and capital investment for the tax incentives they were willing to spend. This is responsible and we need our state to be responsible as well,” added Holden.

SPEEA President Ryan Rule likewise noted that “Adding accountability puts our state on a level playing field with others competing to build or enhance their own aerospace industry.”

HB 2638 has been introduced in the Washington State House of Representatives and referred to the House Committee on Finance, which is holding a public hearing on the bill later today.

Seattle City Council to Consider Groundbreaking Proposal on App-based Drivers’ Rights

Later today, the Seattle City Council will consider a groundbreaking proposal to provide and recognize collective bargaining rights for app-based drivers for hire in the city.

Uber drivers' rights

Uber drivers’ rights (photo – Koala Yummies/flickr)

The legislation will directly benefit drivers in Seattle working for Uber, Lyft and other such services, and tax drivers too.

These drivers are currently considered independent contractors with none of the rights that other workers have. There is no bar on minimum wage, and they get no overtime, no unemployment benefits, no workers’ compensation, and no benefits. Some of these drivers earn less than $3 per hour.

They also have no right to collective bargaining, which makes it more difficult to avoid exploitation and seek better pay and work conditions.

Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien has introduced a proposal to provide the drivers with a path to collective bargaining. The City Council will hold a public meeting regarding this proposal, and then vote on it.

Not only is this proposal important for app-based drivers in Seattle, but is also likely to serve as a model to protect the labor rights of a significant and large group of workers that could be replicated nationwide.

This proposal is especially important for Seattle economic development because a very large number of for-hire drivers come from historically disadvantaged communities.

Many are new immigrants to the US and English is not their first language, making it difficult for them to find jobs. Driving taxis, flat-rate, and TNC-endorsed vehicles is often the fastest and easiest path to regular work for them. Unfortunately, because they are vulnerable, they are often taken advantage of by the companies that hire them or contract with them.

This proposed legislation provides a mechanism to redress the imbalance of market power that currently exists in the industry. However, the legislation would also force an increase in costs for companies like Uber and Lyft, who would likely transfer the increased costs to the consumer, and it may affect their job creation and investments in local economies.

For Seattle, this is an opportunity to decide this debate and show the way for other cities and states who are rolling out the red carpet and providing incentives for companies without any regulations to protect the thousands of people from disadvantaged communities in each city that are involved in the app-based driving economy.

Yahoo Cites Renewable Energy and WA State Commitment For Quincy Data Center Expansion

Yahoo! Inc. has announced plans for an expansion of their data center operations in the City of Quincy, WA.

Yahoo

Yahoo (photo – Yahoo Inc/flickr)

The addition of 300,000 square feet of space effectively doubles the size of the Yahoo data center in Quincy and will house thousands of new servers.

Yahoo already has 50 employees at the site, and the expansion project will create more jobs over the coming year. The Quincy data center is one of Yahoo’s three owned and operated data centers in the United States, and a key component of their data center architecture, serving hundreds of millions of users across the world.

Mike Coleman, Senior Director for Data Center Operations, said in a post on the Yahoo! Blog that their expansion in Quincy is a reflection of their commitment to the people of Quincy, Grant County, and the State of Washington.

“Our decision to expand our data center is a direct result of the unbeatable mix Quincy offers: impressive local talent, abundant renewable energy sources, and Washington State’s commitment to creating an attractive business location,” said Coleman.

Quincy Mayor Jim Hemberry noted in a release that the community fought for the tools to win the jobs created by new data centers, and Yahoo’s decision proves the fight was worthwhile.

The city of Quincy, which bills itself as the place where “Agriculture Meets Technology,” has become a magnet for the data center operations of major companies located in Silicon Valley, Seattle and other tech hubs in the West Coast. Quincy is now is home to the data center operations of companies including Yahoo, Microsoft, Dell, Sabey and others.

The location offers an abundant supply of cheap green hydropower generated by area dams. The Yahoo Quincy data center is powered almost entirely by hydropower and wind. Also, data center projects in Quincy have become a lot more appealing since the 2007 renewal of Washington economic development tax incentives for data center projects locating in rural counties.

WA Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler said in the release that “Yahoo’s announced expansion is exactly what our Senate majority had in mind when we led the drive to renew tax incentives for data centers. It is timely proof of how good tax policies can help our state compete for good jobs.”

John Boyd, Quincy Superintendent of Schools, stressed on the positive impact of the additional property taxes that Yahoo will pay. “Yahoo’s expansion will ensure that substantial property taxes paid by their new data center will be available to support our effort to create innovative learning opportunities for our students,” said Boyd.

US Economic Development Administration Awards $2M Green Job Training Grant to Port of Port Angeles, WA

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded a $2 million grant to the Port of Port Angeles, WA for retrofitting a building that will house the Composite Recycling Technology Center’s workforce training facility.

CRTC

CRTC (photo -portofpa.com)

Commerce Sec. Penny Pritzker said in a release that this EDA investment supports recycling and environmental stewardship and will provide critical job training in Washington.

The $2 million EDA grant required a dollar-for-dollar match, and was made possible through a combination of state and local funding. So the project is getting $4 million, additionally the EDA grant, another $1 million from the Washington State Clean Energy Fund, and $1 million in local government funds.

High-strength and lightweight carbon fiber composites are increasingly being used to build everything from aircraft to automobile parts and have a wide range of applications across all major industries.

The CRTC will house a reprocessing center that will receive some of the two million pounds of carbon fiber that gets landfilled in WA State annually. CRTC will annually convert 1.4 M lbs of valuable carbon fiber material by its fifth year into useful products that will not only reduce the environmental impact of the waste, but also create new jobs and income.

A Peninsula College program will be co-located in a purpose-built facility at CRTC that will offer workforce training for staff of CRTC and composite companies. The EDA, state and local investment into this project will create an estimated 111 jobs in its first five years of operation, in addition to the industrial and workforce training the facility will provide for green jobs.

By the sixth year, an additional 89 jobs are expected to be created in the advanced composites sector as products developed at CRTC are commercialized. These activities will result in the creation of another 140 indirect jobs in the economy.

Governor Jay Inslee said in the release that this is a tremendous example of a community with a vision for how clean technology will create jobs and opportunity to secure its economic future.

The Composite Recycling Technology Center is a public-private project led by the Port of Port Angeles. Partners in the project include Peninsula College, the City of Port Angeles, Clallam County, Governor Inslee’s Office, and the Washington State Department of Commerce, in addition to many other private companies and research institutions.

Federal investment in the project was facilitated by the fact that it is located in Clallam County, which is a part of the IMCP-designated Washington Aerospace Manufacturing Community. Communities so designated under the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership program receive preferential consideration for federal grants from participating agencies, which includes the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration.

Seattle Economic Development Office Seeks Partner for Manufacturing Incubator Project

The City of Seattle has put out an RFP seeking a partner for helping the City develop a manufacturing incubator that will assist and benefit manufacturing sector startups and expansions in the city.

Seattle OED manufacturing incubator

Seattle OED manufacturing incubator (photo -seattle.gov)

One of the key objectives of the partnership is to retain and create new employment in the manufacturing sector in Seattle.

Selected partners will work with the Seattle Office of Economic Development to create an affordable space for new and existing small manufacturers, lower their cost barriers, and allow them to grow and collaborate.

Recipients that meet the RFP requirements will be provided $100,000 for the development of a manufacturing incubator. The funding for this project is being sourced from the fees generated by the City’s NMTC program. New Markets Tax Credits are a federal tax credit financing tool that helps attract private investment to development and business projects located in low-income neighborhoods.

The Seattle OED created Seattle Investment Fund LLC (SIF) to participate in the NMTC program, and SIF gets the fees associated with this program. A portion of the fees are set aside for Seattle economic development initiatives to assist small businesses in the city.

For example, fees generated by these NMTC-supported investment projects have allowed the City and SIF to provide facade improvements for businesses in several key districts. It has also increased the small business lending activity by the Seattle Office of Economic Development and other organizations such as the National Development Council’s Grow Seattle Fund.

This new $100,000 manufacturing incubator project likewise seeks to assist emerging and expanding businesses in the manufacturing sector in Seattle by decreasing their cost barriers. Manufacturing businesses find it harder to take root and grow because their needs are often more complex, and require more expensive space, infrastructure and equipment.

The RFP also aims to create an environment supportive of entrepreneurial development in which startups and expanding businesses that are similar or complimentary to each other will be encouraged to network and collaborate.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a release announcing the RFP that this incubator will help local manufacturers find new ways of doing business, foster new ideas, and develop new partnerships.

Seattle City Councilmember John Okamoto, who is also an SIF Investment Committee member, said in the release that investing in emerging local businesses that create products in Seattle itself is smart business for the City.

Okamoto added that it’s great that the City and the Seattle Investment Fund LLC are using the fees from the NMTCs in an innovative way to support local manufacturers that range from food and beverage makers to metal fabricators.

Washington State Commerce Dept Launches Fund Local Crowdfunding Platform

The Washington State Department of Commerce has teamed up with Community Sourced Capital to launch Fund Local, an innovative crowdfunding platform that will enable small businesses in all 39 counties in the state to access zero-interest loans from the community.

Fund Local

Fund Local (photo – choosewashingtonstate.com)

The initiative adds a highly useful statewide Washington economic development program for growing small businesses while also fostering community engagement, and all without any government funding.

Through the Fund Local program, established businesses in Washington State will be able to borrow in between $5,000 to $50,000 as a loan from the community, to be used for expansion and growth.

Businesses can launch a 28-day crowdfunding campaign using this platform. Community members who want to support a particular business can pitch in with $50 increments, known under the program as “squares.” Once funded, the business will have three years to pay back the loan to its squareholders.

Governor Jay Inslee said in a release announcing the launch of the program that “There’s Buy Local, Eat Local and now Fund Local — I’m excited to kick off this new avenue for people to help employers grow successful businesses and provide jobs in the communities they love.”

As part of the partnership, the Washington Dept. of Commerce will connect CSC with economic development organizations in each county in the state in order to identify businesses that would make good candidates for the Fund Local program.

WA Department of Commerce Director Brian Bonlender said in the release that they support innovative economic development tools that assist communities, especially in rural areas, while supporting job creation strategies for small businesses.

Seattle-based Community Sourced Capital is a Certified B Corporation with a mission to build innovative financial systems that generate sustainable, affordable ways for circulating capital in local communities.

CSC has helped 50 businesses raise nearly $900,000 from a total of more than 3,800 lenders. This includes $157,050 loaned through the Fund Local program to Washington State businesses in four counties where it is already active.

Community Sourced Capital CEO Rachel Maxwell said in the release that CSC is honored to partner with the state on such an important project, adding that small businesses have a very difficult time getting traditional loans and Fund Local offers a new way for them to get capital from local residents.

Residents in turn get to support local businesses and the economy. Bonlender added that the Fund Local strategy builds community economic strength from within, allowing communities to support their local businesses.

Amgen Waterfront Campus Attracts Expedia Headquarters Relocation to Seattle

Expedia, Inc. (NASDAQ: EXPE) announced plans to relocate its headquarters to the former Amgen waterfront campus in the City of Seattle, WA.

Expedia

Expedia (photo – Shibby777/flickr)

The company is purchasing the 40-acre campus for $228.9 million, and will be spending a lot more to create a new modern design for the 750,000 square feet of existing buildings.

Expedia is expected to move 4,500 employees to the new campus in Seattle, including some 3,000 who are currently located in the City of Bellevue, WA. Overall, Expedia, Inc. and its subsidiaries have nearly 15,000 employees around the world.

Company executives and city leaders in Seattle and Bellevue defined the Expedia headquarters relocation as a real estate issue, with the availability of the Amgen site as a key factor.

Amgen announced it was closing facilities in Washington and Colorado in July 2014 as part of a global restructuring and downsizing process. Amgen’s closure of the facility cost Seattle some 660 jobs.

The Pier 91 site was initially created as a corporate facility by Immunex, which purchased it from the Port of Seattle. Immunex was at that time supported by a large package of Seattle economic development incentives which included the construction of a separate road leading to the facility. The biotech firm was acquired by Amgen in 2002, and Amgen spent some $600 million to turn the facility into a high-class waterfront campus for their operations.

All that infrastructure and facility improvement spending on the campus is now bearing rich fruits for Seattle, with the prestigious recruitment of the Expedia headquarters, hundreds of millions of dollars in additional investments and the economic impact of 4,500 jobs.

The campus includes onsite dining options, a fitness facility, a parking garage with 1,100 spaces, and outdoor recreational areas. Not to mention spectacular views of downtown Seattle, Puget Sound, Mt. Rainier and the Olympic Mountains.

Expedia, Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a release announcing the project that owning an iconic waterfront headquarters will position them well in the competition for top talent and aligns with the work hard, play hard culture that defines Expedia.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray responded in kind, noting that they’re delighted that Expedia is moving to Seattle and pleased that they’ve chosen this beautiful campus as their long-term home.

Khosrowshahi noted that it was a tough decision to leave Bellevue, which he said has been a welcoming and supportive home to Expedia for many years. He added that they are highly supportive of Seattle’s commitment to attract and grow the pool of highly-qualified talent in the area, and excited to continue to be part of King County’s technology-based economy.

Greater Seattle’s Regional Economic Development Plan to Attract FDI and Grow Exports

The Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle and the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County have unveiled an ambitious regional economic development plan to attract foreign investment and grow exports over the next five years.

Greater Seattle Region Global Trade and Investment Plan

Photo – seattletradealliance.com

The Greater Seattle Region Global Trade and Investment Plan is the result of a public-private partnership effort in which the TDA, Seattle-King County EDC and others partnered with multiple state and federal agencies.

The U.S. Department of Commerce and the Washington State Department of Commerce were involved, as were the Puget Sound Regional Council, and the economic development councils of Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish Counties. Not to mention a host of local governments, trade associations and educational institutions.

The plan focuses on strategies to increase FDI inflows into Washington State’s advanced industries including aerospace manufacturing, clean tech, IT and life sciences. It is designed to increase by 25 percent the number of foreign-owned firms that choose to locate their operations in the region and create greater employment opportunities.

A major focus of the plan is on long-term relationships with partners in China in order to facilitate exports and foreign investment opportunities for regional companies. To this end, the plan calls for the creation of a new organization called ChinaSeattle.

This is being done by the Washington State China Relations Council, which is working with the TDA, Washington State Department of Commerce, City of Seattle and others.

Other focus areas include increased regional economic collaboration, helping small- and medium-sized enterprises access new capital and export markets, and development of a potential investor pipeline – students and tourists.

This plan is part of the work done by the Greater Seattle region as a participant in the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase. The Seattle MSA was one of the first six metropolitan areas picked to participate in the pilot program to develop and implement regional strategies for growing exports and securing FDI.

With the development phase of the plan now complete, JPMorgan Chase announced a new grant of $150,000 to support the region’s implementation of the plan and its participation in a new round of export planning. Among other things, this new funding will be used for organizing investment and export workshops, and for the creation of a database of investment opportunities.

Suzanne Dale Estey, president and CEO of the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County, said in a release that “The Greater Seattle Region Global Trade & Investment Plan demonstrates the unified response our region is taking to international competition for jobs and investment.”

Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle President Sam Kaplan said that the TDA is proud to be an active partner in the creation and implementation of this plan.

Stefan M. Selig, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, U.S. Department of Commerce, said in the release that expanding trade and attracting more foreign direct investment are sound economic strategies that bring good-paying jobs to the region.

Selig added that this plan, with its emphasis on collaboration, global investment and innovation opportunities, is a true game-changer for the Greater Seattle region.

Here’s the full (pdf) Greater Seattle Region Global Trade & Investment Plan.

Washington Economic Development Grant Supports Aerospace Supplier Workforce Expansion

The Washington State Department of Commerce has awarded a $101,000 grant to the Northwest Workforce Council to support Hexcel Corporation’s workforce training needs at a newly-expanded facility in Burlington, WA.

Hexcel

Hexcel (photo – hexcel.com)

The Washington economic development grant, provided under the Workstart program, requires the company to put up a 20 percent cash match.

Stamford, CT-based Hexcel Corporation (NYSE:HXL) is an aerospace and defense supplier and a leading advanced composites company which develops, manufactures and markets lightweight high-performance structural materials such as carbon fibers, honeycombs, reinforcements for composites and composite structures.

The company first established a manufacturing facility at the Port of Skagit’s Bayview Business Park back in 1990. In June 2012, Hexcel broke ground on an expansion of the facility to add a new 63,537-square-foot, two-story building. At that time, the existing 90,000-square-foot facility already had 130 employees, and the company is now in the process of adding another 100 new jobs.

Hexcel Burlington is one of Hexcel’s eight manufacturing plants in North America and eighteen around the world. The expansion plan for Burlington was supported by an array of partners including the Economic Development Association of Skagit County, Northwest Workforce Council, Skagit Valley College and Green River Community College.

The company’s growth is being fueled by new aerospace product orders for Hexcel’s composite laminating and autoclave operations.

In a press release announcing the grant, Washington Governor Jay Inslee said that bringing together workforce training, community colleges and state economic development resources to provide employer-driven customized training programs is strengthening the state’s capacity to serve the composite materials sector worldwide.

Jim Collins, Hexcel Plant Manager, said in the release that Hexcel is very pleased to benefit from this grant. Collins added that providing funding to train the company’s workforce is another great step for Washington State’s drive to be a center of excellence for aerospace.

Washington State Dept. of Commerce Director Brian Bonlender said that companies serving aerospace and other industry sectors that are using more advanced carbon fiber composites need a workforce with very specialized skills that are often unique to their particular production processes.

Director Bonlender added that the WorkStart program is designed to get workers ready to go and on the floor with the necessary expertise quickly and cost-effectively.

The WorkStart program has been used by 11 companies throughout Washington since 2013 to train 714 employees.

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