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Council approves economic investment

Summary

Proceeds from obsolete program to provide seed money for community economic development

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The Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously approved legislation that will invest funds from an obsolete county program into economic development programs throughout the region. The ordinance will dissolve King County’s Economic Enterprise Corporation and will use the proceeds from the corporation as seed money for small economic development projects.

“Programs like the Worker Center, enterpriseSeattle, and Puget Sound Regional Council’s Prosperity Partnership help boost our economy by matching workers to jobs and leveraging employment opportunities,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, chair of the Council’s Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee. “This is the right time to invest in these economic activities by re-appropriating funding made available from dissolving a now-obsolete county enterprise.”

“The seed money in this legislation for economic development programs provides a much needed investment in areas such as the Skyway area of our county,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “The Skyway Solutions Plan is a community plan that will greatly benefit both the residents that live there as well as potential businesses that can be attracted to the area.”

“These specific funds can be used only for economic development activities,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who co-sponsored the legislation. “King County is fortunate to be able to partner with a number of existing private programs that do excellent work improving the local business climate and attracting jobs. This small investment can make a big different for our economy.”

Created in 1984, the Economic Enterprise Corporation (EEC) issued industrial revenue bonds in support of economic development in King County. The EEC has issued 16 industrial revenue bonds totaling $48,418,000 on behalf of businesses located in King County. Businesses used the bond proceeds to finance buildings and equipment that resulted in the creation of an estimated 649 direct jobs.

In 1990, the state Legislature created the Washington Economic Development Finance Authority, an independent agency within the executive branch of state government, created for the same purpose as King County’s EEC, only performing this function on a statewide basis. The state program will assume issuing industrial revenue bonds on behalf of King County businesses. The EEC issued its last bond in 1998. The dissolution of the EEC will eliminate duplication of efforts and save public resources.

Along with the dissolution of the EEC, the adopted legislation directs that the majority of the approximately $95,000 of funds remaining in the Corporation be disbursed to small economic development projects throughout King County. Those projects are:

• enterpriseSeattle - $10,000 to fund a financial services cluster economic impact analysis and marketing contribution;
• Puget Sound Regional Council - $5,221 to update the five-year regional economic strategy;
• Center for Advanced Manufacturing Puget Sound - $10,000 for manufacturing capabilities database development;
• Highline Community College - $10,000 for procurement technical assistance to small and disadvantaged businesses;
• White Center Community Development Association - $10,000 to support marketing and promotion of the business district revitalization plan;
• Skyway Impact Capital - $10,000 for support of the Skyway Solutions Plan;
• Worker Center - $10,000 to support increased apprenticeship diversity in the construction trades.

In addition, the County’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks Administration will receive $20,000 which will be used by the University of Washington’s Department of Agriculture in Fall City and Vashon to support business district revitalization.

“Standing on the cusp of economic recovery from the greatest recession of our lifetimes, we need to invest in solutions that will help us build prosperity and get people back to work,” said Executive Dow Constantine. “These one-time funds can help lay the foundation for job creation now and in the future.”

“South King County agencies like Highline Community College, Green River Community College and Skyway Solutions will receive funding to boost small businesses and benefit disadvantaged community organizations,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson, chair of the Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee. “It’s an opportunity to help these agencies grow. I look forward to seeing what sprouts from this seed money.”



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