Earlier this year, TRIDEC sponsored its 16th annual Regional Economic Outlook. Experts representing agriculture, real estate, the Department of Energy (DOE) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) as well as the regional labor economist all projected a very bright 2015 and beyond for the Tri-Cities. In fact, many observers characterized this Economic Outlook as the most positive ever.
A team of economic development consultants led by TadZo Consulting finalized a New Economy Target Industry Analysis during 2014. The research led to a list of major industrial target sectors and subsectors that will focus TRIDEC’s business recruitment efforts for the next several years. TadZo recommended a list of industry sectors that presented the greatest opportunity for success and align with regional capabilities: Energy, Logistics, Food Processing, Machinery Manufacturing, Carbon Fiber Manufacturing and Training. In order to implement the recommendations outlined by TadZo, TRIDEC staff will engage with key industrial contacts through trade shows, targeted marketing strategies and promotional events.
Partially in response to the TadZo recommendations, TRIDEC has launched a new expansion retention program, Food and Beverage Retention & Expansion Opportunities. This effort focuses on how to help local companies grow as well as attract similar companies. The effort also aligns with development projects in Kennewick, Pasco and West Richland.
In addition, TRIDEC is working on marketing and collateral materials to fit the new Tri-Cities community brand developed in collaboration with Visit Tri-Cities and the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce. The whole purpose of the community branding effort is to elevate the desirability of the Tri-Cities over every other community in Eastern Washington (and beyond).
TRIDEC will be launching a new website by mid-year encouraging others to “Try Tri-Cities” as well as a new GIS Real Estate tool, Zoom Prospector, for easier navigation of available industrial and commercial sites and buildings in the Tri-City area.
The Tri-Cities cannot lose sight of the important role PNNL has in shaping the future of the economy. PNNL, as well as local educational institutions, has a tremendous impact on the community, and TRIDEC will continue to support their expansion.
Hanford cleanup is ongoing, and TRIDEC has been vigilant on the congressional cleanup budget. During the next several years, the community should celebrate the successes as the areas along the Columbia River will be completed. The Tri-Cities must also recognize some of the most complex (and costly) cleanup remains.
A new national park, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, is on the horizon for the community. The park will mean new economic activity, and important decisions will need to be made regarding how the Tri-Cities can maximize the positive impact. TRIDEC will continue to work with DOE and National Park Service to ensure the success of the new park.
In 2011 TRIDEC, acting in concert with Benton County, the Port of Benton and city of Richland, formally requested that DOE transfer 1,600 acres to the community for industrial development. In its role as DOE’s Community Reuse Organization, TRIDEC made the request, but the property will ultimately be developed by the city and/or port. DOE has been directed to transfer the property by Sept. 30 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014.
Additional, initiatives TRIDEC will continue to support for 2015 include the Young Professionals of the Tri-Cities (YPTC), the TRIDEC/Tri-City Airport Air Service Task Force and the Mid-Columbia Energy Initiative.
In 2014, the Tri-Cities had more people employed than ever before, and in December, the community registered the 21st month of year over year job growth. 2015 is the perfect time to build on the success we have achieved in moving the community to a post cleanup economy. It is important as a community that we continue to inform those we make contact with about the positive aspects of our economy and to “Try Tri-Cities.”
We truly are a better, bolder and brighter Tri-Cities!