Office of Governor Gary Locke
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 13, 2002
Contact: Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136
Alt Contact: Kirsten Kendrick, Governor’s Communications Office, 360-239-1399 cell
Gov. Locke Outlines Plan to Keep Washington Competitive at Statewide Economic Development ConferenceGov. Gary Locke outlined an economic recovery plan for the state in a speech yesterday to the first-ever statewide Governor’s Economic Development Conference.
The conference, called for by Locke and organized by the Washington state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, wrapped up today in Spokane. A sold-out crowd of more than 450 business and economic development executives from around the state gathered to share ideas on how to grow their companies and create new jobs in the struggling economy.
Locke told the conference that improving the state’s transportation system is the most important factor in keeping Washington competitive and attracting new businesses to the state. He said the state is losing $2 billion a year due to congestion.
“We must take action now to improve our critical transportation infrastructure,” Locke said.
Locke also expressed support for changing the state constitution to make it easier for Washington to compete with other states for new business. He is advocating the expansion of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to include state funds, which would allow local governments to finance bonds and make public improvements. His office is drafting legislation for the 2003 legislative session regarding TIF and is exploring options on possibly amending the state constitution.
Locke also told the conference he would sign an executive order later this month creating a new state Economic Development Commission. The group will guide and offer private sector input to the state’s economic policy.
The Economic Development Commission was one of the recommendations of the Competitiveness Council, which Locke convened in 2001. Locke told the conference that many of the council’s other recommendations, which he supported, have now become law, such as streamlining the state’s regulatory and permitting processes and reforming the state’s water laws. Locke and other speakers at the conference credited the Competitiveness Council with developing key strategies on how to improve the state’s economy.
“We have made progress and, in turn, have made Washington more competitive,” Locke said. “But we need to continue to move forward together.”