EDC is seeing increased interest in industrial real-estate as buildings become leased out. Real estate occupancy is hitting nearly 100%. Our economic development planning consultant TIP Strategies had a successful kickoff. Overall we are seeing interest from the manufacturing, distribution, and the transportation sectors.
EDC and TIP completed three days of outreach meetings and interviews with local stakeholders. Our organization is in the process of developing a strategic plan that considers input from all of our partners. During this last week we had the opportunity to meet with; Lewis County PUD, United Way, Port of Chehalis, Centralia-Chehalis, Lewis County Commissioners, and other key organizations. Following our meetings there were three points that emerged. There is strong consensus that Centralia College provides excellent technical and academic programs, the PUD provides excellent power rates, and there is an opportunity to create “momentum” for business investment.
Jeff Marcell of TIP Strategies Ashton Allison of TIP Strategies
EDC General Membership Luncheon
Our General Membership luncheon was well attended by EDC members and our State Legislators from the 19th and 20th legislative districts. Those in attendance had the opportunity to hear from Representative Ed Orcutt, Senator Dean Takko, Representative J.D. Rossetti, Senator John Braun, and Representative Brian Blake. Many issues were discussed including education, flooding, operating budget, and growth of Lewis County.
Industrial Real Estate Trends
The demand for industrial space has increased over the last year. The space of inquiries and leases being signed has picked up. The vacancy level in commercial and industrial buildings has dropped below pre-recession levels. Until the next construction cycle begins for new industrial buildings the EDC projects that there will be an unmet need in the marketplace for both industrial and commercial building space. Projects like the Industrial Commission building a 10,000 square foot building for future growth will help position our community for new investment.
Medical Design & Manufacturing Expo/Plastec Trade Show
The EDC was represented at the show by “Site Location Partnership” at the MD&M & Plastec Show they developed 16 business recruitment leads from the Trade Show. The Medical Design & Manufacturing Expo was held in Anaheim, California and had 49,264 attendees and 2,229 exhibitors. The Expo showcased the various manufacturers of medical equipment. Many of the leads we received are in bottling, packaging, molds, and surgical instruments. We will work hard to connect with these leads and explain the benefits of Lewis County.
We have successfully followed up with a total of 11 leads, or just about 70% of the leads we received. Six companies expressed no interest in expanding their businesses, two expressed an interest at a future date dependent on their partners, finally three expressed interest of expanding their businesses in 1-2 years. The largest issue holding back companies are the incentives offered in Washington State. Other states are offering free land to entice companies to move to their areas. In general, many of the companies we spoke with have recently expanded their companies to Texas and Arizona and are considering those states for expansion
Advanced Medical Manufacturer
Our organization is working to attract a manufacturer in the medical sector. The client is located out of state. Their site-selection process involves a nation-wide search for the ideal location for a 100,000 square foot facility that is projected to employ 300 people. Their site selection requirements include: “Just In Time” shipping via a major carrier freight carrier, favorable state tax structure, and a trained workforce in the medical field. During a recent visit to the clients existing location we were joined by representatives from Centralia College who expertly articulated the Colleges existing workforce training programs and the ability of the College to create customized workforce training programs. It is anticipated that the company will be making a decision on a future location in the next 12 months.
BUSINESS RETENTION AND EXPANSION
Lewis County is home to a number of transportation companies. We had a chance to meet with Jeffrey Lund whose family started the business several years ago. Their core business for many years was for large food companies requiring refrigerated vans. With the changes in how people view processed foods, and trans-fats those markets have declined. What followed were some harrowing years as they worked through the recession and the need to diversify their business. Lund Trucking now has 70 trucks and ships for Darigold, Don Foods, Cascade Hardwood, Imperial, Michael’s, as well as other local employers. They have gone out of their way to serve our local community interests.
EDC Membership Luncheon
June 9th, 2016 at Noon
Location: Holiday Inn Express