Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
January 30, 2003
Good afternoon. It’s great to be here.
It’s a special pleasure to be part of this unique variation on the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony. Today we will celebrate with the cutting edge of a saw. And this grand opening is another shining example of how our state is on the “cutting edge” when it comes to working hard to improve our business climate.
I’d like to thank and congratulate Home Depot for choosing Lacey as the site of this new Import Distribution Center, serving nine states. We welcome this part of your operation to our state. Of course, we’ve known your company and its stores for years.
We are very proud that you chose Washington. Home Depot is truly a world-class company. It’s hard to believe that it all began 25 years ago when Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank developed the concept and founded the corporation—with 20 associates and no stores and no sales. The next year the first 3 Home Depot stores opened with 200 associates and $7 million in sales. A lot of people might have felt pretty successful. And might have left it at that.
Instead, Home Depot has grown in leaps and bounds, becoming the world’s largest home improvement retailer. There are 1,502 stores, including more than 1400 stores in the U.S., 89 stores in Canada, 7 stores in Puerto Rico, and 12 in Mexico. And in case anyone thinks the growth is over, Home Depot opened 17 stores in one day last year—the largest one-day store rollout in the company’s history!
Best of all, Home Depot is a great corporate citizen that shares our commitment to communities. The company’s philanthropic budget was more than $25 million in 2001, directed to the communities Home Depot serves. We’re always very enthusiastic to welcome responsible, caring companies to Washington.
For our state, today is a big day. Jobs are a top priority in these tough economic times. This key facility will provide at least 175 family-wage jobs for our citizens. That’s 175 meaningful opportunities with a great company. 175 families in our state for whom this day is really a new beginning.
Just as important, Home Depot is the fifth national retail chain to open or break ground for a regional distribution facility in our state in less than a year. In 2002, we welcomed other great companies to our state: Target. WalMart. Safeway. Ferguson Enterprises. These companies chose Washington over other Northwest states. Together with Home Depot, these five companies will create about 1,400 jobs here.
These companies chose Washington for many reasons. Washington has always been a great place to do business. And we’ve been working very hard the past few years to make our state even more competitive. We’ve reduced the B&O tax on businesses, cut red tape, and streamlined regulatory processes. We’ve created new economic development tools to help local governments and rural areas in our state attract new business.
Today we see again that our efforts are paying off—paying off in more family-wage jobs for our state. We will keep doing our best to improve our state’s competitiveness. We will continue to focus on jobs. We will keep welcoming companies like Home Depot—the world’s best companies—to this state. Because Washington is a great place to live, work, raise a family—and to do business.