Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chamber Luncheon Featuring: Downtown Tacoma, Sponsored by the Port of Tacoma

On March 9th, the City Center Luncheon was reborn as the Chamber Luncheon with 80 people in attendance.  This change was brought about by the increasing demand for updates and information on what is happening in our community, including the greater Tacoma area.  For more on this change, please see the previous blog post here.

Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland
After introductions from Tom Pierson, President and CEO of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, and Don Johnson, Port Commissioner for event sponsor the Port of Tacoma, the jam packed program brought Mayor Strickland to the podium.  She provided an update on coming changes in 2012 for the City of Tacoma.  In addition to the budget challenges faced by the City the Mayor highlighted the need to encourage innovative entreprenuers. 

<continued after the break>

The growth of Tacoma based businesses has fueled much of the City's growth over the years.  This has been true whether it was timber or financial industries.  Today's Chamber membership includes many of these Tacoma grown companies like Columbia Bank, Multicare and Tacoma Screw.

Before concluding, the Mayor did note her high expectations for Lincoln High School football under their new leadership, ex-Seahawk, Jon Kitna.

Kurtis Kinsolver, Tacoma Public Works
Kurtis Kinsolver, City Engineer, presented information on two important downtown construction projects: the 9th Street improvements and the Stadium Way redesign.  Kurtis provided a detailed plan of remaining work on the S. 9th Street project.  This project first came forward last May, but work did not begin until last fall and was then put on hold for the holidays. Despite the challenging weather, the City hopes to wrap this project up over the next couple of months.

Mr. Kingsolver also presented information on the proposed changes to Stadium Way.  The project is still expected to begin construction in June.  The road cross-section will include bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides, as shown in the image at the top of the post.  Since this is a major route for students and staff at Stadium High School, the detour routes are dependent on the school schedule.  This requires the first phase of work on Commerce and N. "E" St. to be completed prior to the Stadium Way closure.

The full presentation can be found here (5MB).

Claudia Bingham Baker, WSDOT
Claudia Bingham Baker presented on the proposed closures of exits associated with the SR-16/I-705 interchange.  The first of these closures is expected to go into place in May.  While there are detailed detour routes planned, users should expect some delays for the 90-days of each closure.

The first closure will be from Exit 133 on northbound I-5 to I-705.  This will require drivers to exit before Exit 133 to still reach the city center.  WSDOT is asking I-705 users to use the Tacoma Mall/S. 38th/SR-16 exit ramp to bypass construction and connect with I-705 after Exit 133.

The second closure will be the Tacoma Mall/S. 38th St. exit from southbound I-5.  This detour will be more complicated for drivers trying to access S. 38th St.  The detour will require drivers to drive over a mile south to the S. 56th St. exit and come back to S. 38th via Tacoma Mall Blvd and Steele Street.

Mrs. Bingham Baker's full presentation, including detailed detour drawings is here (15MB).

Representative Laurie Jinkins, WA ST Legislature (27th LD)
Representative Jinkins updated the crowd on wins from the legislative session that ended at 12:07AM that morning.  While she was preparing to return to Olympia for a special session, she quickly went over everything they accomplished in the shortened session to date.

Highlighting the Chamber's successes in Olympia she noted the additional jobs creation opportunities behind the aerospace bills, the clean air non-attainment bill, the financial services administrator bill, and the myraid of projects in the transportation budget.

In addition, there were funds secured in the tentative capital budget for everything from the Pierce County Skills Center to Foss Waterway Seaport.  However, these wins are only tentative as the capital budget is waiting for the operating budget to be approved in special session.

Ms. Jinkins concluded by highlighting how welcoming Washington State is for businesses.  However, the challenge faced by the state is the unsustainable nature of the sales tax and the innovation impeding business and occupation tax.  She called on the audience to think about how to fix this problem while maintaining great schools, workforce development, and quality of life.

The full presentation is now available online here (1MB).

Next: Tahoma Business Environmental Awards
Please join us for the next Chamber Luncheon, where we will have more great speakers as well as the presentation of the Tahoma Business Environmental Award.  To learn more about the program or RSVP, please visit our website.

No comments:

Post a Comment