Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Lewis County Economic Development Breakfast
July 10, 2003

Good morning. It’s great to be here again.

Two months ago, I was here to sign five new bills into law. This year’s Legislative session was very productive—for Lewis County and for our state.

Even in tough economic times, we made good progress in keeping the state/local economic development partnership vital, and in working to create jobs. Today I’d like to talk about some of that progress.

We enhanced rural development efforts by broadening the ways in which designated industrial areas can be used. This gives rural areas more flexibility and choices in determining how best to develop and grow local industry—and create needed jobs.

Perhaps the most significant progress we made this session for economic development was providing permanent funding for the Community Economic Revitalization Board—CERB. This program provides funding for economic development infrastructure, primarily in rural counties.

We’ve seen the effectiveness of CERB in Chehalis. In 1995, the Port of Chehalis benefited from the CERB program with a $410,000 loan to build up the Port infrastructure. This helped bring Imperial Group Inc. to this area—and created 30 new jobs.

Also in 1995, a CERB loan of $500,000 provided road and utility infrastructure. This eventually led to the siting of the Fred Meyer distribution center and 5 other companies at the Chehalis industrial park. This park now provides 800 jobs.

This success has been repeated all across our state. CERB is a strong source of good jobs for rural families, creating thousands of jobs. But for years it lacked a permanent, stable funding source. The now permanent funding will keep this valuable program going.

Our progress this year is added to other recent steps forward. In 1999, thanks to your sponsorship, the legislature expanded the rural economic development sales tax funds program. The program increased the credit against state sales tax from .04 to .08 percent. The revenue is used to fund local economic development projects. Most often to pay for sewer water improvements to enable existing business to grow or to entice new companies to an area.

Last year, Lewis County received more than $950,000 from this source of revenue.

Thanks to an $18 million incentive package, the Centralia Steam Plant is still operating and employing 750 people. And the plant has successfully reduced emissions down to mandated levels.

CTED is currently working on business recruitments with the Lewis County Economic Development Council. The partnership between state and local officials is alive and well here. That’s key to successful economic development.

We’ve made great progress recently in economic development and the state/local partnership here in Lewis County and across Washington.

We also just passed a critically important transportation improvement package. Our entire state needs these improvements—and we will all benefit.

Here in Lewis County, the most important transportation project is the $71 million I-5 lane-widening project. This project adds a lane in each direction from Rush Road to 13th Street. It also will add an interchange at Labree road. That’s great news for all of us, especially for you Chehalis area motorists! The project also includes $31 million for the Chehalis River Basin flood control project—more good news.

Just north of here, there is also a $73 million I-5 lane-widening project in South Thurston County, from Grand Mound to Maytown. With the improvements here in the Chehalis area, we’ll see reduced traffic congestion and improved freight mobility all through this portion of the busy I-5 trade corridor.

The transportation improvement package will make our roads safer and our transportation system more efficient. It will accelerate economic recovery. The improvements will also create thousands of family-wage jobs. Thousands of Washington families will benefit from those jobs, benefits that will be passed on to our state’s economy. Our roads will be safer, and our transportation system more efficient.

The state construction budget we passed this session will create an estimated 13,400 private sector construction and related jobs over the next two years, and another 11,000 jobs in the following two years.

Lewis County will benefit. The budget provides $255,000 for the Veterans Memorial Museum, $105,000 for pre-design of a Science Building at Centralia College, and $301,000 for game farm improvements for the Fish and Wildlife Agency.

And speaking of jobs and economic recovery, we are doing everything we can to keep Boeing jobs in Washington. We believe that Washington is the best choice for Boeing. We have the manufacturing facilities, the equipment, and the tooling in place. The infrastructure is in place. The suppliers already work with final assembly here. The best trained, most highly skilled, and most experienced aerospace workforce is here.

We’ve submitted a winning proposal. And we expect to win.

We will continue to improve our state’s business climate because we want to keep companies like Boeing. We want to attract additional top companies.

And we will also continue to work in partnership with local governments for strong economic development.

Jobs are the key to economic recovery and a bright future. And our partnerships with local governments and business are crucial creating jobs and building a vibrant economy.

Thank you for this opportunity to share a few thoughts. I look forward to hearing yours.

Access Washington