We need to expand opportunities for everyone in Tacoma. To do that, city leadership needs to have a sustained focus on recruiting new businesses and on addressing issues plaguing our current business community.
In 2010 and then 2018, Tacoma lost major employers Russell Investments and then State Farm, respectively. During the pandemic, we suffered the closure of several well-known establishments – including The Swiss, Pacific Grill, and C.I Shenanigans. Currently, too many long time Tacoma businesses are concerned about the cost of additional security measures and the hostile environment for their employees, customers, and vendors with whom they work due to the street level threats and property crime right outside their doors.
We must prioritize initiatives that create a more friendly business environment for several important reasons. Our residents need quality family wage jobs to afford the cost of living in our beautiful city. We need a strong tax base to deliver the compassionate social services that are needed for the less fortunate among us. Finally, when we live where we work it is best for the environment, our health and our lifestyle.
As your councilmember, I will:
- Engage in listening sessions with the business community and Neighborhood Business Districts to understand the issues they face, then act.
- Address chronic property crime so customers and businesses feel secure.
- Launch a block-by-block revitalization program within business districts.
- Set a goal for bringing new employers to Tacoma and launch a taskforce committed to achieving that goal made up of the Economic Development Board, our major private employers, the Port of Tacoma, JBLM and the Chamber of Commerce to identify businesses that might be a fit and to set steps to bring those employers here.
- Expand workforce development and retraining with a special emphasis on youth, the underemployed, and those experiencing homelessness.
Listening sessions with the business community.
I’m a small business owner. From experience, I know many business owners do not feel heard and do not believe city leadership understands or cares about how crime, fear of crime, and neighborhood appearance greatly impact a business’s ability to attract new customers and generate the revenue needed to pay staff and taxes. That’s why, together with a group of other business owners, I created the Tacoma Business Council
The Tacoma Business Council organized businesses in Tacoma so we could speak with a louder voice about the issues that were making it hard for us to succeed in Tacoma. That effort has had some success in getting the ear of the Police Department to devote resources to addressing property crime. But more must be done.
These businesses drive Tacoma’s economy. When a city supports its business community, other businesses notice. A responsive city government that is truly invested in seeing its business community thrive is one key component to attracting new businesses. That’s one reason Bellevue has been successful in attracting so many businesses.
As your councilmember, I will engage in listening sessions with the business community and then take action.
Address chronic property crime so customers and businesses feel secure.
We must first address chronic property crime issues that continue to cause expensive – and often devastating – damage to businesses and make customers feel unsafe and less interested in visiting local businesses.
The cost of broken windows, stolen vehicles and catalytic converter, lost product, hiring security guards, putting up and maintaining fencing and lost customers due to crime and fear of crime can mean wages suffer, jobs are lost, or even having to close your doors or moving. These costs also hurt the city directly, because it means fewer tax dollars generated. It’s a vicious cycle.
By allocating additional police resources for prevention and apprehension, our city can alleviate high property crime rates. Lowering property crimes will help encourage employers to continue operating in our city and – in time – attract new, job-creating businesses. The city must work to build trust with our employers.
Block-by-block revitalization programs
I’m excited about the future of our city, but there is an impression that Tacoma is in decline. With leadership from the City Council, our best days are ahead.
I want to make sure our city looks nice.
We must prioritize the beautification of the main entryways into our City. We can do that by focusing Litter Free 253 on the City Center exit, I-705-509 intersection, and Union Street exit off Highway 16 and by engaging with our State representatives and the State Department of Transportation to ensure the state is pulling its weight in addressing the blight on their roads. Removing graffiti and trash will go a long way to making our city more attractive.
We must also focus on filling vacant office space, including through public-private partnerships that support artists and startup businesses.
We should launch an initiative to get people back into downtown.
Expand workforce development, particularly for youth and those experiencing homelessness.
Workforce development is critical to revitalizing our economy. Our city must invest in internship programs, job training initiatives, and trade schools – particularly those supporting youth, those experiencing homelessness, and those with a criminal background to reduce recidivism.
By developing important skills and opportunities, we can create a pipeline of qualified individuals for the workforce, making Tacoma an appealing place for businesses to locate.