Burien City Council begins hashing out economic development goals

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by Jack Mayne

The Burien City Council spent much of a special meeting Monday night (July 28) beginning to hash out a plan for the city’s future economic development.

The Council had, in June, completed the process for an Economic Development Strategic Plan that began a new effort to define the City’s Economic Development Goals and Actions for the 2015-2016 biennial budget cycle and succeeding years.

Lauren Berkowitz

Not just any business
The Council wants to stimulate business growth in the city, but as Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz said, business that will improve and enhance the desire of people to move here and to shop and do other business at home.

“I think it is critical to say that we want to recruit businesses that are not just any kind of businesses but strategic, high quality businesses,” Berkowitz said. “I don’t think we want to drop all of our standards, ruin our environment, ruin our labor force and just get any business that wants to come here. I would just add high quality or something,” she said, noting it should be the Council’s overall goal to have “high quality” businesses.

Later she suggested the term be “socially responsible,” an idea that Deputy Mayor Bob Edgar agreed was a better description of what type of business the city was hoping to lure.

Councilmember Steve Armstrong said he opposed the addition of “high quality” because “how do you define that?” He said did want quality in Burien, just wondered at the definition.

Councilmember Nancy Tosta agreed it was hard to define, but “we want businesses that don’t harm the environment, we want businesses that encourage livable wages, we want businesses that create social cohesiveness.”

Berkowitz said she intentionally picked a nebulous word so the community could help define what they mean by it, “rather than the seven of us” defining it.

Councilmember Debi Wagner said all of the terms need to be in a glossary included with the policy that would contribute to the quality of life in the city.

“Some of these things are driven by market forces that we will have no choices about,” Wagner added, noting that goals are good “but what comes is what we get.”

Mayor Lucy Krakowiak

Mayor Lucy Krakowiak suggested the goals should be wider than the wording in the draft proposal, “with a focus on businesses related to the arts and foods.”

Councilmember Gerald Robison said he liked keeping the words identifying arts and food in the policy to better “identify where we want the city to move and if we get too general with these goals, we are really not identifying any direction.”

Wagner suggested that there be two parts, one for attracting businesses to the city and another section that would work toward retaining businesses already here and seeking to keep and attract “socially conscious” business. They are different goals, need different approaches and should be treated as such.

Robison said there were similar and could be lumped together as an action plan.

Berkowitz and Tosta felt goals should be worded to do both retain and attract.

Robison suggested that a city might need businesses that are not socially responsible in order to be a city for all.

The council voted to include this wording in the program.

“Attract and retain socially responsible businesses through an active business retention and recruitment program.”

The next goals
The council then took up and tentatively accepted a goal that read, “Pursue major developments that have a positive, large-scale impact on Burien’s economic base.”

Also accepted was a goal that would, “Identify, support, and expand Burien’s base of small businesses that contribute to the culture, diversity, and resiliency of our community.”

Then they accepted a goal to “Enhance the branding and marketing of Burien as a family friendly community, built on our cultural, natural and economic assets.”

“Strengthen the consumer base in the City of Burien. Support the workers who make businesses possible as employees and the consumer base. Improve multi-modal transportation availability and choices. Explore opportunities for and enhance engagement and ownership in economic activities within Burien (e.g., cooperatives, value chains) that create more types of wealth and increase livelihoods.”

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10 Responses to “Burien City Council begins hashing out economic development goals”
  1. Question Authority says:

    “Socially responsible” businesses? Let’s just ban all the alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, trans fat laden food, fossil fuels, tanning beds, non electric vehicles, oil bases paints, pesticides, non organic foods, high fructose corn syrup and of course porn because all those things and much, much more are not “socially responsible” I say we contact the nearest Puritan community for advice before we turn the Burien of the future into a place Lauren Berkaditz would prefer we live in. Anybody want to ride your bike and meet for some tofu?

    • Joey Martinez says:

      Sure, I’ll meet up with you for that, right after I check my mailbox…. oooh Netflix!

      • Tim says:

        In order to get Burien on the map there needs to be more than the usual politic speak from the lame city council. Compare Burien with the city of Renton. Renton promotes itself and has a thriving economic base due to projects like Renton Landing. Look at the amount of diverse business just in that small area. All I see in Burien is shops that have closed or will be soon. Empty storefronts. I really do not believe this city is interested in being anything more than a small town. We apparently cannot support a Target or Walmart or mall even though population wise this city is busting at the seams. Why. I voted for most of the city council members hoping they would take the required actions to get this city moving. Nobody outside of the city of Burien knows we exist. How about spending some of your federal grant money on promoting and advertising. How about a tax incentive to lure in new business.Lets get this city out of the dark ages.

  2. krm says:

    Art and food? Are you serious? If Amazon wants to build a major office here, we should say “No, you aren’t arty enough, and you provide no food!” Major foolishness on the part of the council. Lucy, I’m suprised at you, didn’t you run a small business?

    • eric says:

      If Burien is a bedroom community without great food and a thriving arts scene (fun things for workers to do) why would Amazon want to build a major office here? Studies show restaurants and art draws business.

      • krm says:

        Really? Can you direct me to these studies? Or is this a fact that “evryone knows?”

        Business (and housing) must grow to feed the restaurants and fun venues. This business/housing/reataurant mix has to grow organically to support each other. To emphasise any single segment is not productive.

        I say this as a retired business owner and current lesor of retail spaces.

        • eric says:

          Sure krm, here are just a few studies that I found in just a few minutes of research:

          Harnessing the Power of the Arts: Capitalizing on the Economic Power of the Creative Industry, R Lynch, ICMA Public Management, Oct. 2008 vol. 90, No. 9 (Cover Story)

          Building Creative Economies: The Arts, Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development, Monograph, March 2003, Americans for the Arts

          For just some of the positive economic impact of the arts for a community:

          U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and National Endowment for the Arts Release Preliminary Report on Impact of Arts and Culture on U.S. Economy – link: http://arts.gov/news/2013/us-bureau-economic-analysis-and-national-endowment-arts-release-preliminary-report-impact

          Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, Economic Impact of the Nonprofit Arts & Culture Industry, Americans for the arts – link http://www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/reports-and-data/research-studies-publications/arts-economic-prosperity-iv

          Creative Industries, Business & Employment in the Arts: Measuring the Scope of the Nation’s Arts-Related Industries (report on the impact of both non-profit and for profit arts organizations – requires login, but free http://www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/reports-and-data/research-studies-publications/creative-industries

          Of course there are plenty more studies out there. Do not misunderstand, you do not have to be against business to be pro an arts economy. They grow organically to support each other. The national average for the return on government investment in the arts is 7:1 one of the very highest for any government investment.

          “According to the 2007 Americans for the Arts report ‘Arts and Economic Prosperity III,’ the key lesson learned is that cities and counties that invest in the arts reap the additional benefits of jobs, economic growth, and a quality of life that positions those areas to compete in our 21st-century creative economy” Harnessing the Power of the Arts: Capitalizing on the Economic Power of the Creative Industry, R Lynch, ICMA Public Management, Oct. 2008 vol. 90, No. 9 (Cover Story) at page 1.

          Burien is perfect for investing in the arts.

        • eric says:

          krm, a few hard numbers from Seattle from 2010, the last year numbers are available and in the heart of the recession: http://aftadc.brinkster.net/AEPIV/WA_CityOfSeattle_AEP4_SummaryOfFindings.pdf

          Of note: event related spending by arts and culture audiences totaled $175.6 million (excluding the cost of admission).

          The average arts and cultural attendee spent $29.79 per person in the City (excluding the cost of admission)

          Arts and culture and their audiences provided household income paid to residents of the City $248,198,000.00; paid to local government $17,042,000.00; paid to State government $21,189,000.00.

          If Seattle can do that just a few miles North of Burien, there is no reason, that with support, Burien cannot also share in the economic wealth provided by arts and culture.

          • shari says:

            Great examples. Its a pretty straightforward thing…people come to enjoy an arts event they stop to eat nearby, and they walk around and buy things …and go home and recomnend the show and the fun places to eat and shop to their friends. If you want more support for the idea, it might help to know that a lot of corporations (Boeing, for one) and foundations offer grants specifically to support the ability of arts and culture institutions to drive economic growth. And that’s private, not public, money. I dont think the Council plans to recruit exclusively arts and food businesses and institutions, but they’re aware that we have to figure out how to pull people in here to spend money…we’re not along a major highway, so nobody just drops in…they need to come here intentionally.

  3. Browner says:

    Econ. Develop. Plan

    1. Bring in businesses that hire people and pay taxes.

    Lots of words in the council(especially, one member). Enough of the feel good, everyone gets a ribbon, talk. Let’s see action. Cities are fighting hard to get businesses to come to their city. C’mon council and city staff, git ‘er done!

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